Review: Jenny Slate in “Dead Millionaire”
Jenny Slate long has been a dirty darling of New York City's independent comedy scene as half of the duo Gabe & Jenny. You may have seen her deliver a witty barb or two by herself as a talking head on a VH1 clip show, but what would a full-fledged solo Jenny Slate show look and sound like? Let me give you a hint: Her weekly show with Gabe and Max Silvestri isn't the only thing that's Big Terrific.
Behold: "Dead Millionaire." Jenny Slate's one-person show, currently enjoying its first limited run at the UCB Theatre in NYC (next show: May 21), imagines a future in which she has become a famous eccentric performer, and upon her death, all of the characters who have interacted with her come back to offer remembrances, celebrate at "Jenny's I'm Dead Now Party" and find out who she had left her many millions to, and her little dog, too!
The show opens with Slate playing a TV anchor reporting live from the Jewish temple services in Canton, Mass., reporting on the tragic death of this "Jewy beauty." Onstage, Slate also takes on the persona of her attorney, Ruth Diamond Phillips (Wellesley '85), an uptight single gal that Slate manages to play tricks upon from beyond the grave; Slate's beloved niece, Misty, who explains the wisdom behind the film Men in Black; her dumb, blind, sweet cousin Gina tries to "hand out" the money -- "Don't let it get saved!" she cries; and a cameo by Gloria Estefan, who, it turns out, had a life-changing encounter with Slate. Even more characters pop up to offer brief bursts of silliness in a series of videos.
And Slate plays a version of herself, too, on video, offering up instructions "in the event of my death," as well as things Jenny liked, things she hated, and her favorite music videos.
What really makes the whole thing shine so brightly is watching, hearing and discovering the demented lunacy that comes out this little Betty Boop of a spritely girl, and wondering, what does she have up her sleeves next? I, for one, cannot wait to find out.