Saturday, March 26, 2016

Thank God for Jokes ****

Ever since catching his first off-Broadway show, Sleepwalk with Me, seven years ago, I have been a fan of comedian Mike Birbiglia. His ingratiating, slightly self-deprecating persona, his skillful ability to seamlessly incorporate the audience into his monologue and the effortlessness with which he picks up motifs from earlier in the show and deftly weaves them into the performance make time spent with him a thoroughly rewarding experience. His 2011 show My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend was equally enjoyable and his new show, now at the Lynn Redgrave Theater, is, if anything, even better. Loosely organized around his anxiety preparing to host the Gotham Awards, the current monologue digresses in many amusing directions. At a more serious level, he addresses the power of jokes to offend as illustrated most brutally by the Charlie Hebdo murders. The 85 minutes flew by with very few moments that did not grab my attention. Beowulf Boritt’s simple set features a round wood platform backed by a wall with a few stained glass windows. Seth Barrish, his usual director, is back. Birbiglia’s plaid shirt and jeans suit the image he wants to project. He is a master of the monologue and we are lucky to have him back onstage. Running time: 85 minutes, no intermission.

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