Monday, November 12, 2018

Review - The New One

I was again very fortunate to receive unexpected comps - this time, to Mike Birbiglia's show on Broadway, The New One.  I will be honest and say I didn't know much about Mike Birbiglia before I saw his show - I had tangentially heard of his work and knew him to be quite popular, but I had no idea what to expect when I walked into the Cort Theater last week.  I walked out a pretty big fan.  I'm sorry to say this will be a pretty short review, though - a lot of the lines are so funny, I'd hate to give them away in advance.  And I've been asked to not give away details about a specific moment, so...

But honestly, I haven't laughed so hard at a piece in a long time.  I found The New One to be really well-constructed and performed, with a lot of terrific spins on familiar tropes.  I mean, he really had me from the very first minute of the show, talking about his couch.  I do love a good couch.  Familiar, comfortable, with some wry twists and humorous slants, the show started off in a low-key place, but ended up somewhere very unexpected.

Actually, a lot of the show was unexpected to me.  Not only because I didn't know Birbiglia's work, but also because the way his mind works was so off-kilter to me.  He's really a wonderful storyteller, and there's a rather surprising arc to the entire evening.  He went in directions I didn't expect, but they were never false or contrived.  And I have to tell you, I nearly convulsed with laughter during (spoiler alert) the section of the piece describing prostate exams.  Sorry, gents, but after all of my humiliating medical tests, to hear humiliating medical tests for men described with all the outrage and pain a man can muster, I deserved to laugh.

photo credit: Joan Marcus
Do I think we need to have more one-man-stand-up-comedy shows on Broadway?  Probably not. Was I maybe at  first a little resistant because I thought, 'ugh, do we really need another cis white man-stunted-adolescent-yutz being self-deprecating and self-aware of his cis white man schtick?'  Yeah, maybe, a little resistant at first.  But I freely admit that I laughed loudly and often during the show and I appreciated the construction and his willingness to declare himself a pretty big jerk throughout.  Not only owning the jerkdom, but regretting it, too.  I'm not describing it quite right, but I did sense the balance and the truth and the regret and the self-condemnation.  All while laughing my head off.  Would I want to spend premium prices for a one-man-stand-up-comedy show?  Hmmmm.  I don't know.  But if you can find a discount and need a good laugh, The New One is a great place to be.  I'm glad I went.

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