By Tulis McCall
Jacqueline Novak is one smart cookie. And she will let you know that at the drop of a hat. Not in a boastful way that makes you feel stupid. But in a dignified way that lets you in on the joke that is based on a thoughtful examination of – well it doesn’t really matter. Could be anything.
In Get On Your Knees the focus of the evening is on oral sex, specifically blowjobs. But she is in no hurry to get there. First she has to feel her way around the stage and let us get used to her. The way she looks, and sounds, and most of all the way she thinks. It is a carnival going between those ears:
It’s a nightmare for an intellectual like myself…to be incarnate at all.
As a woman of ideas, everything from the chin down, feels beneath me.
I’d love to appear before you as a sheet of well-formed arguments
But no, I’m a born orator.
Indeed. Much like her Executive Producer Mike Birbiglia, Novak can give the impression that she is improvising her work on stage. She can, of course, do that as at her core she is a stand-up comedian. In this show however, the map has been nailed to the floor and she is following the trail, leading us on with a gentle demeanor and a precise point of view.
She admits to being heterosexual which is almost boring these days. And her attraction to men is out of her hands, just as her attraction to the penis is out of – oh, on second thought maybe not.
ANYHOO – Novak approaches the subject of blowjobs as though it were a TED Talk or a college essay (the show actually originated as the latter). She thinks about the equipment of oral sex in general; the etymology, the logistics; what we feel about the penis – it is respect or pity? How is the penis like a woman? How do we learn the do’s and don’ts? What about safety zones or exchange groups where a person could practice?
She takes a thoughtful detour into the reality of all of this for a teenager. What are we telling out daughters about this? Why does there have to be a first time that is the first time? And once mastered is it okay to become the Queen of Blowjobs? Damn straight because life is short – and if you don’t think so, go look at old pictures of people who are dead but still smiling.
There are waves upon waves here – riffs that lead down paths and back again. She swirls and expands into metaphor and wonderment. The blowjob is imperfect like life. It is a wild thing that she is trying to tame, not for herself alone. She is doing it all for us – and if you don’t believe her that is just fine. She will still spin the tale of the blowjob, and make you think about something you would never discuss over a beer and a slice. Novak sneaks into your mind while you are not watching. You never see her, you should pardon the expression, coming. You only know she’s been there when you notice there has been a deposit in your mental bank account.
If she were not Jewish she might rename the show “Fall On Your Knees” – but hey, it’s her story and she is sticking to it.
GET ON YOUR KNEES A New Comedy Written and Performed by Jacqueline Novak Directed by John Early
Natasha Lyonne presents JACQUELINE NOVAK: GET ON YOUR KNEES through August 18. Tickets for Jacqueline Novak: Get On Your Kneesare$35-$59. JacquelineNovak: Get On Your Kneesplays at theThe Cherry LaneTheatre (38 Commerce Street) Tuesday -Saturdayat 7:30pm, with matinees Saturdayat 4:00pmand Sunday at 2:00pm. Tickets can be purchased by visiting: GetOnYourKneesShow.com or calling Ovation Tix at (866) 811-4111. 75 minutes. No intermission.