As a journalist, reaching the final page of the notebook always prompts mixed emotions. First, excitement at the prospect of starting anew with a clean, fresh pad of paper. Then, a touch of sadness, because you’ve held this pad literally close to the vest for months, and inside it are memories, written down and kept with you, but nevermore. And you know that even though you keep your notes around for years to come, the odds remind you that you’ll likely not open this pad again, leaving it with the other memories of shows and interviews and news gone by. Was there something you’d written that shouldn’t be left behind, you wonder? If you’re lucky to remember, you flip back through the pages looking for important phone numbers, names and notes to self that actually became notes to self.
I found a few shows I’d seen that made my notepad but hadn’t been shared yet. So let’s get to it.
Goodnight, OJ: This one-woman show by Livia Scott (directed by Baron Vaughn) has its final performance tonight (Jan. 30) at the UCB Theatre in NYC. In it, Scott re-examines and performs actual letters written to OJ Simpson when he was in jail back in 1994 charged with double murder. I saw this show Nov. 29, 2007, when Simpson had just come back into the news — and jail — for his Vegas shenanigans. Scott and Vaughn made a conscious decision to include not only letters of dark humor but also darkly depressing notes. Wasn’t expecting that. Scott told me they’ve shuffled the order of the letters from show to show, and believes the Simpson trial was one of the last things (9/11 notwithstanding) that brought everyone together to watch in shock and awe. I found the Colette letters as well as the notes from children to be quite funny and touching. Still not sure about including some of the darker stuff (one letter is addressed, "Hey, Sambo"), but I suppose that’s what makes this more of a theatrical piece than a straight comedy.
We Kate Shelly: Sketch comedy from Kate Hess and Shelly Stover. Stover has such an expressive face and uses it to great effect. The duo has a big musical number finale. At the show I saw, their impact was lessened a bit because, without microphones, some of their scenes were more difficult to follow. They’re at the UCB in NYC on Jan. 31, Feb. 4, and Feb. 18.
The Collective: There is a management firm known as The Collective. This is a diferent collective of New York City actors and comedians, and they invited me to see a comedy show they held after a play at Centerstage on West 21st Street. Fourth-floor venue. Very theatrical crowd, obviously most watched the company’s play and stayed afterward, and quite welcoming to all the comedians. Amy Schumer hosted, talking to the audience as if she were friends with all of them (which heck, she may have been!). Comedians on the lineup included Mike DeStefano, Jackie Monahan, Demetri Martin, Mara Herron, Maggie Champagne and Jesse Joyce. Schumer told me later that night that they hope to produce more plays and comedy shows, just looking for the right venue.
Ritalin Readings: The Slipper Room had the feeling of a cozy living room before December’s showcase of writers and comedians reading, with hosts Lindsay Robertson and Gabriel Delahaye. Delahaye opened with a bang by reading from "The Y2K Personal Survival Guide," with the helpful tips such as stocking up on two-liter soft drink bottles. Didn’t hear much from Robertson but hope to next time. The show did throw me for a bit of a loop, though, when the first two performers didn’t read at all. Sean O’Connor did stand-up. Elna Baker presented a story she was rehearsing for radio’s This American Life about working in toy demonstration at FAO Schwartz. Both funny, but wasn’t this about reading? Lang Fisher did have a letter she’d written to a potential employer in becoming an assistant farmer, while Will Leitch read from his upcoming book (now out) based on his Deadspin experiences, and show producer Jon Friedman shared an email he sent to all of his coworkers on his last day as an NBC intern. Patrick Borelli closed the show with crazy, true and quick stories.
I think that gets us almost caught up.