I’ve caught two shows at the Out of the Loop Festival so far, both ending this weekend, so it’s now or never.

The centerpiece production, “Dixie’s Tupperware Party,” features a cross-dressing actor portraying his Dixie persona, a Mobile, Ala., housewife (well, double-wide widow to be accurate) selling actual Tupperware products to a mystified audience.

Dixie’s funny to be sure, but the shtick — calling everyone “hookers,” referring to her products as “plastic crap,” repeating words over and over and over and over and … — gets tired before the show’s over.

On the other hand, “It Goes Without Saying,” Bill Bowers’ autobiographical story of how a gay kid from Montana became “the world’s oldest professional mime,” never gets tired. With only a stool, easel and sketch pad on which he’s written title cards for the chapters of his stories, Bowers escorts the studio space’s audience not only through the last 50 years of his life, but a half-century of Middle America, from the tight-lipped Eisenhower-era family he grew up in through the too-real-for-words horrors of the AIDS epidemic (which, literally, left President Reagan speechless on the topic until the sunset of his administration).

Bowers is a charming, open character who tells some shocking stories (a confusing sexual relationship as a teen with a teacher three times his age, the brutal death of his lover from AIDS) but never seems especially maudlin — at least not until the end, when he mimes roping the moon (the only truly corny bit). His stories are funny and true and confessional, and while sometimes sad, his show is never without hope. Laugh, clown, laugh — and the whole world laughs with you.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

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