‘Matt and Ben’ ponders cosmic forces in duo’s meteoric rise | AspenTimes.com

‘Matt and Ben’ ponders cosmic forces in duo’s meteoric rise

Stewart OksenhornAspen Times Staff Writer

Brenda Withers and Mindy Kaling double-swear that they’re not jealous.But two summers ago, when the two were roommates in a cramped, hotter than hell New York apartment, they couldn’t help but wonder: Did Matt Damon and Ben Affleck receive a literal gift from the heavens in the form of the “Good Will Hunting” screenplay?”We were paging through magazines,” said the 24-year-old Withers, “and the boys” – that’s Damon and Affleck – “were featured everywhere.”Without envy, Withers and Kaling, who had met while both were theater students at Dartmouth College, set about turning their thoughts on the boys into a show. They came up with “Matt and Ben,” which ponders, without a hint of niggardly emotion, whether Damon and Affleck were the recipients of divine fortune. The show won Best Overall Performance honors at the 2002 New York International Fringe Festival and is set for a national tour followed by an off-Broadway run.First “Matt and Ben” makes a stop in Aspen at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. Directed by Joe Schiappa and starring Wither and Kaling, the show is scheduled for tonight, Feb. 27, at 9 p.m. at the Hotel Jerome. It will also be presented Friday at 2:30 p.m. and Saturday at 11 p.m.”It follows one day in their lives, a very special day, when the script for ‘Good Will Hunting’ drops from the sky into their hands,” said Withers, who plays Damon to Kaling’s Affleck. “They have to decide how to handle everything, the ramifications of a supernatural event, and how they would handle the friendship aspect.”Withers and Kaling insist their show doesn’t convey a bitterness toward the boys. “It’s a sophisticated romp,” said Withers. “Noel Coward meets Ivan Reitman. ‘The Odd Couple’ meets ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ It’s like ‘The Odd Couple’ because it’s about two guys in an apartment.”The girls say that, far from being overcome by the green-eyed monster, they are filled with warmth over the boys’ success, whatever may be its source.”At the end of the day, both Mindy and I admire what they’ve done,” said Withers. “They worked really hard, plugged at it and had this meteoric rise to fame. We’re looking forward to success of a similar nature.”@ATD Sub heds:Other events@ATD body copy:The U.S. Comedy Arts Festival’s Film Discovery Program features a screening of “Scorched” today at 4 p.m. at the Isis Theater. An offbeat and unpredictable screwball comedy directed by Gavin Grazer, “Scorched” is centered around several disgruntled, slacker employees of a small-town bank.Alicia Silverstone is a bank teller who has just been dumped by the manager. Woody Harrelson has just been promoted to assistant manager, only to find out that the promotion comes with many added responsibilities and a 55-cent an hour raise. Paulo Costanzo is a timid teller who is tired of listening to the lame money-making schemes of his friend. Hilarity ensues when all three attempt to pull off separate robberies over the same weekend. John Cleese is featured as a local infomercial millionaire. “Scorched” is uneven, but original and loaded with laughs.Other events scheduled today at the USCAF include the presentation of the Freedom of Speech Award to filmmaker and author Michael Moore, hosted by former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart (8 p.m., St. Regis Aspen); “J. Edgar!: The Musical,” a musical look at the secret relationship between FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover and his companion, Clyde Tolson, starring Kelsey Grammer, John Goodman, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer (7 p.m., Wheeler Opera House); a special show featuring stand-up performances by Lewis Black, Susie Essman and Joe Rogan (9:30 p.m., Wheeler); “Mr. Show Live!: Bob and David in ‘Hooray For America!!!'” a sharp social commentary by Bob Odenkirk and David Cross (11:30 p.m., Wheeler); and Julia Sweeney’s one-woman play, “Guys & Babes, Sex & Gods” (7 p.m., Hotel Jerome).Also on today’s Film Discovery Program schedule are “Rolling Kansas,” director Thomas Hayden Church’s tale of a road trip to the magical forest of marijuana (10:45 a.m., Isis); “Dummy,” a romantic comedy starring Academy Award nominee Adrien Brody (1 p.m., Isis); and the U.S. premiere of “Autumn Spring (Bab Lto),” a Czech film about an octogenarian prankster who refuses to admit he is about to die (2 p.m., Isis).[Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com]

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