You may not know Christopher Reiner.
The next two Sunday afternoons, you can amend that by dropping in at Zombie Joe’s Underground in NoHo.
From 4 to 5 pm, Reiner takes to the keyboard and mic to share a handful of songs from his copious catalog. He also steps over to a lectern now and then, for samples of his prose compositions. He’s a genial host, and the hour flows by easily, too soon over.
But Reiner’s songs and stories — their familiar feel, their sudden surprises — will stay with you. You may find yourself humming one of his melodies; you’ll surely smile as you recall one of his wry turns of phrase.
Reiner’s an accomplished master of “comfortable pop” — his sound, like his manner, makes you feel at home, settling in for a pleasant ride. But he’s got a sharp, post-modern wit; so the lyrics can weave a gentle love song, or run you into bumps and sudden turns. His best stuff is part Cole Porter and part Kafka. You go from tapping your toes to dropping your jaw, or laughing out loud, or bursting a sudden sigh at recognizing an unfortunate truth.
For more than a decade, Reiner has been the “house composer” at Zombie Joe’s, crafting musical analogs for the horripilating vignettes and discomforting dramas that have made the place famous. (His musical setting of Poe’s “The Bells,” for example, is a masterwork.) But he has stayed in the background. Occasionally, he’s been cajoled onstage to accompany a show; usually, he appears on a CD in the control booth.
So this is a rare treat. And a sweet one — Christopher Reiner is someone you’ll be glad you met, and will want to spend more time with. There’s a CD for sale in the lobby; and we hope there’s another show coming.
End Up Here, written and performed by Christopher Reiner, directed by Zombie Joe.
Presented by Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group, at the ZJU Theatre, 4850 N. Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood 91601.
Sundays at 4:00,
through January 22.
Tickets: <www.ZombieJoes.tix.com> or (818) 202-4120.