Whatever you think it’s going to be, Oh, Hello on Broadway is even better than that.
What began perhaps as a goof a decade ago between two young friends in comedy has, all these years later, majestically hit the Broadway stage this fall as a fully thought-out legit stage production, a two-man tour de farce for Nick Kroll and John Mulaney.
Parodies of plays and musicals along “The Great White Way” have arrived aplenty over the past generation, from Noises Off to Forbidden Broadway all the way to today’s contemporary meta musical, Something Rotten!
As Gil Faizon (Kroll) and George St. Geegland (Mulaney), the two comedians inhabit two 70-something Jews who’ve shared a rent-stabilized Upper West Side apartment for more than 40 years, along with a shared love of Alan Alda, Steely Dan and Broadway. Faizon, an aspiring actor, goes out for auditions such as the office voiceover for CBS. St. Geegland, a writer by nature, aspires to capture their life in prose. When they learn their rent suddenly prices them out of their abode, they conspire to get rich quick. Perhaps their prank show, “Too Much Tuna,” will get the call from NY1 — “The Number One TV station in New York City…chronologically.”
Faizon and St. Geegland represent the epitome of white male privilege, clueless to the hardships others face, all while delivering their lines in the cadence of Woody Allen with the volume of Gilbert Gottfried. They also share a love for subverting the accent on the first syllable of two-syllable subjects in a sentence.
Mocking the stage by celebrating it may be a time-honored tradition, although perhaps never has such a production featured so many hard-hitting, laugh-out-loud jokes. Inside jokes. Inside New York City jokes. Inside NY1 jokes. Inside Broadway jokes. One-liners culled from years of their respective solo stand-up careers. So many jokes it’s surprising they don’t break character more often than they do on any given night. So much witty repartee bantered back and forth — and let us take back the word banter for more appropriate tributes — that it’s a testament to both men’s acting skills. Anyone who cast aspersions on Mulaney’s delivery in his short-lived, self-titled FOX sitcom will walk away duly impressed with how well he carries and often walks away the better of his exchanges with Kroll.
Their “Too Much Tuna” segment, arriving near the midpoint of the 90-minute no-intermission performance, also allows Kroll and Mulaney to showcase their improvisational skills, as well, deftly responding to their nightly celebrity guest with quick rejoinders and follow-up queries. None other than Alan Alda himself showed up as their guest for their opening night on Broadway. The night I attended, Alex Brightman, star of the current Broadway musical, School of Rock, sat across the aisle from me and walked onstage to join Faizon and St. Geegland.
Even if you had never seen “Gil Faizon” and “George St. Geegland” in their multitude of guest appearances, improv and sketch shows in NYC over the past decade at venues such as Rififi or the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, you may have seen them and their tuna prank thanks to Comedy Central’s Kroll Show, which helped expose the duo’s caricatures to a nationwide audience.
They may not win the Tony Award in 2017 for “Best Choreography in a Limited-Run Vanity Project,” but they should win all of the plaudits, if not also a Tony, for what they’re doing right now under the direction of Alex Timbers.
Charmed, I’m sure, you’ll be.