By Tulis McCall
I have been living under a rock sez you?
Perhaps sez I, but Oh Hello Live! has changed all that by acquainting me with the likes of George St. Geegland (John Mulaney)and Gil Charmed I’m Sure Faizon (Nick Kroll) .
Heretofore I was unaware of this partnership that takes goofy and catapults it to a new level. Kind of knocks it out of the ball park. And oh, yeah, they are smart BTB. And this audience, who, unlike me, have been aware of the Messrs for years and years through Comedy Central and SNL, was ready. They laughed before the jokes hit the floor, which in this case is okay because the jokes are all pretty much old and very much L-A-M-E. Which is exactly what makes them so friggin’ funny.
St. Geegland and Faizon are old dudes, now in their 70’s with the wigs and painted on aging so appropriate for septuagenarians. They have been roommates on the upper west side since the 1970’s when New York really was something. In that time they did move, once, all the way from 74th to 73rd. They have been hermetically sealed and have found no reason to come out and join the rest of us.
Just because they don’t join us, however, does not mean that they don’t have opinions. They do, and their opinions are the running commentary that gives them oxygen. In addition they are fascinated by their own lives. They are the proud recipients of a restraining order taken out by Alan Alda, the world’s greatest actor, which does not stop them from publishing a newsletter on Mr. Alda. They are old school people who understand what a travel agent is and how to use one. They are racist tightwads who pride themselves on being liberal.
On this particular evening we are let in on the reason we have been invited here. We are here to see them perform their newest play (they are of course writers from way back). And after all, theatre is the most exciting medium especially recently when there is Hamilton – and nothing else – and where you can scream at one another and deceive the audience wth closing lines and lighting. Anyway – onto the play within the play, but not before the formalities of a play are properly skewered. Expository phone calls onstage (China Doll anyone?), cellphones in the audience, candy, coats – etc. etc.
THEN onto the p-l-a-y. Two men who live on the Upper West Side have just received a rent increase: from $74 to $4,000 (sounds about right) and they must find gainful employment. We flash back, we flash forward. There are ads for made up clothing. There is more than one homage to Steely Dan. There is a guest star for an interview. Sadly, F. Murray Abraham never gets his spot in the limelight…. You had to be there for that one.
As the show concludes these two offer a Q&A which is a little like being invited into the lion’s cage by the guy with the whip and a chair. You just sit back and watch stupid people be devoured in the nicest possible way.
Your turn. Get over to the Cherry Lane (pronounced Sherry Lane by Faizon) for this one. Now that I’m all Born Again, I’m puttin’ my foot down on that. The shows are all sold out but there is a waiting list and more than a few empty seats. Try for the matinee and put a few belly laughs in the middle of your day. What could it hurt?
Oh, Hello Live! On (Off) Broadway By Nick Kroll and John Mulaney creative consultant, Alex Timbers; associate director, Ian Unterman
Sets by Connor W. Munion; lighting by Jake DeGroot; sound by M. L. Dogg; music by Mark Rivers; additional music by Drew Brody; dance consultant, Patrick McCollum; production manager, Joshua Kohler; production supervisor, Ashley Rodbro; produced by Mike Berkowitz, Mike Lavoie, Carlee Briglia; co-produced by Kristen Buckels and David De Almo; company manager, Mr. De Almo; associate producers, Richard Carl and Joellen Redlingshafer. Presented by Mr. Berkowitz and Mr. Lavoie. Through Dec. 20 at the Cherry Lane Theater, 38 Commerce Street, West Village; 866-811-4111; ohhelloshow.com. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes.
WITH: Nick Kroll, John Mulaney and Ruvi Nandan.