Television talk shows parody themselves so well that "I Drink Televised Gods," a hit-or-miss satire by the Hittite Empire at Los Angeles Theatre Center, seems almost beside the point.
Artistic director/writer Keith Antar Mason and his all-male ensemble nevertheless set out to skewer show-biz pretension with an oddly uneven send-up of TV talk. Their messenger is unctuous Arsenio Hall wanna-be Rahid Clavett (Wheaton James) whose eponymous show features inane patter with pompous pop musicians and ever-smiling actors.
The cast at first plays the material with such matter-of-factness that it's difficult to recognize a satiric point of view. But the show hits its stride with fake commercials (including a neat bit for "Kwaanza: The Musical") and a hilarious appearance from a grotesquely insincere stage actor named Johnny Hollywood.
In case anyone misses the point, a putative at-home TV viewer, seated in the rear of the theater, reviles the talk show (mainly through hollered insults) yet remains transfixed by it--a predicament many small-screen addicts will find familiar.
\o7 * "I Drink Televised Gods," Los Angeles Theatre Center, Theatre 4, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles. Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Ends May 13. $13. (213) 485-1681. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.