David Carl (hilarious, charismatic co-star of Point Break Live) is best known for his solo show Gary Busey’s One Man Hamlet (As Performed by David Carl), which nabbed raves and awards during its debut in the 2014 FringeNYC Festival and subsequent international tour (for my review, please click here).
Three years later, Carl has created this second solo show as a weird sort of meta-sequel. Titled Trump Lear, you might at first think it’s Donald Trump’s One Man King Lear (As Performed by David Carl); but it’s actually more complicated.
In this play, a character named “Carl David” has achieved acclaim performing Lear as Trump—and it’s attracted The Donald’s attention. Trump has Carl David kidnapped to perform the play in front of him…and also his social media audience. If Trump decides he doesn’t like what he sees, or if the show fails to maintain the interest of POTUS’ Internet followers, he’ll have the actor executed.
What follows is a complex blend of Carl’s impersonation of Trump, unusual performances of scenes from King Lear (involving toys, paper puppets, and impersonations of a host of characters ranging from Ronald Reagan to Miss Piggy), and frequent conversations between Carl David as struggling artist and Trump as supremely successful showman.
The key power of this production is actually in the latter. Carl David is played as a poor, bumbling artist who makes most of his living from Trump impersonations, yet has devoted his life to achieving and conveying truth. In contrast, Trump has won the greatest power in the world—President of the United States—by embracing and perpetually dispensing lies. The tension between those two extremes is sometimes electric. Plus there are moments when Carl makes himself so vulnerable that this play achieves a feeling of realness managed by few productions, be they comedy or drama.
And on top of all that, where else are you going to see a Shakespearean actor eat a McDonald’s burger and fries in under 60 seconds? (About halfway through, Carl rolls the fries into a giant greasy white ball he then stuffs whole into his mouth, which is nearly worth the price of admission by itself…)
One extra spin to this meta-show is knowing that, in real life, it’s rumored there was some sort of blowback from Gary Busey’s people about Carl’s first show—because the original brilliant title Gary Busey’s One Man Hamlet (As Performed by David Carl) was changed about a year ago to David Carl’s Celebrity One-Man Hamlet. But even if a brush with Busey’s reps was the seed that led to the creation of this second show, Trump is both far more and far less than a stand-in for Busey.
A major difference is that Carl appears to loathe Trump, but I believe he continues to adore Busey. For example, after the production I asked Carl why Busey isn’t among any of the dozens of impersonations he performs in Trump Lear. “Oh, I couldn’t let him in,” Carl replied. “I’d love to, but then I wouldn’t be able to keep myself from making his role bigger and bigger until he took over.”
David Carl is a special comic, and this is a show worth experiencing. Trump Lear is currently running 2:00 pm every Saturday through August 12th at Under St. Marks at 94 St. Marks Place, off First Avenue. Tickets are an extremely reasonable $20…and typically include free brownies baked by the multi-talented Carl himself.
The PIT’s 24-hour improv marathon began last night at 7:30 pm, and it’s running continuously through tonight at 7:30 pm. A mere $10 buys you admission to the entire event for as long as you care to stay and experience the 24 Hour Improv Show (today from 12:00 am through 7:30 pm, $10, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)…
…or if you prefer joke-telling, a major UK stand-up & TV star (for his April 2016 set on Jimmy Fallon, please click here) performs for one night only in Brooklyn as part of an international tour: Jack Whitehall (8:00 pm, $15, Music Hall of Williamsburg at 66 North 6th Street; take the L subway to Bedford Avenue)…
…or enjoy beloved NYC comic Morgan Miller (Above Average, UCB improv group Mermaids; sometimes does a duo improv show with her brother T.J. Miller) perform a half hour stand-up set…
….followed by a half hour stand-up set by Jaqi Furback (VH1, Funny or Die), both hosted by Ryan Crawford & Lawson Leong: The Double Feature (7:30 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
NYC Comedy Picks for Sunday 7/30/17
This final installment of a a 4-Sunday series of free outdoor comedy shows in July at NYC parks features Michelle Buteau (above right; VH1’s Morning Buzz and Best Week Ever, Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, FOX’s Enlisted, Craig Ferguson, Last Comic Standing, @midnight, comedy album Shut Up), Charlie Pickering (above left; Australian comedy star; host of ABC’s The Weekly), Saurin Choksi (above middle; host of Fuse’s White Guy Talk Show), and Anthony DeVito (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central Half Hour, This American Life): Laughter in the Park (2:00 pm-4:00 pm, Free!, Central Park by the West 67th Street entrance)…
…plus SNL’s Melissa Villaseñor (above right), Brandon Scott Wolf (above left; contributor to SNL’s Weekend Update; Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris), Noah Findling (Funny or Die), Lucy Randall, and sketch group The Postmen (Carmen Christopher, Anthony Oberbeck, and Matt Barats) perform stand-up or sketch in Brooklyn hosted by Harris Mayersohn & Jessy Morner-Ritt: Just a Show (6:00 pm, $6, Brooklyn’s Sunnyvale at 1031 Grand Street)
NYC Comedy Picks for Monday 7/31/17
Don’t forget to watch this final week of @midnight! Brilliant and lightning-quick Chris Hardwick has developed into a network star, and I’m guessing we’ll be seeing a lot more of him on NBC (where he currently hosts prime time game show The Wall). Meanwhile, let’s cherish the four seasons that Chris hosted @midnight, which debuted on October 21, 2013, and developed into one of the wittiest and funniest series to ever grace Comedy Central—and became an international showcase for hundreds of superb comics who were either never on TV before or were severely underexposed. There are few series that are have served the entire wide-ranging comedy community as thoughtfully and thoroughly as @midnight, and we owe Chris, Tom Lennon, Ben Garant, and everyone else involved debts of gratitude. The show airs every night this week at 11:30 pm through Thursday—which will be its 600th and final episode.
Judah Friedlander (one of the quickest minds and very finest stand-ups in comedy; 30 Rock, Meet the Parents, Along Came Polly, author of bestselling cartoon book If the Raindrops United), John Early (Netflix’s The Characters and Wet Hot American Summer, NBC’s 30 Rock, Comedy Central’s Broad City), Samantha Ruddy (College Humor, Reductress, Someecards), Erica Spera (host of 20 Minutes of Fire podcast), and Sagar Bhatt perform stand-up hosted by the wonderful Wyatt Cenac (former star correspondent for The Daily Show; writer for South Park, Adult Swim; albums Comedy Person and Brooklyn): Night Train (8:00 pm; $8; Brooklyn’s Littlefield (635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)…
…and Kerry Bishé (star of AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, star of the last season of ABC’s Scrubs, star of Oscar-winning film Argo) is the guest of this NPR weekly comedy trivia show taped live in Brooklyn and hosted by the wonderful Ophira Eisenberg (NBC’s The Today Show, CBS’ The Late Late Show, Comedy Central, VH1, Showtime, bestselling book Screw Everyone, comedy album Bangs!): Ask Me Another (7:30 pm, $25, The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
NYC Comedy Picks for Tuesday 8/1/17
Starting tonight, one of our greatest stand-ups, superstar Dave Chappelle, performs in NYC for 14 shows in August at Radio City Music Hall. Making each show unique will be guests, as follows: 8/1: The Roots and Lil Wayne; 8/2: The Roots, Ice Cube, Common, and Vince Staples; 8/3: Big Boi; 8/4: The Roots; 8/5: Chris Rock and Jeff Ross; 8/6: Chris Rock and Arsenio Hall; 8/9: Erykah Badu; 8/15: “Very Special Guest;” 8/17: Chance the Rapper; 8/18: Trevor Noah; 8/19: Childish Gambino; 8/20: Lauryn Hill; 8/23: Yasiin Bey; 8/24: Ali Wong, John Mayer, and Lil Jon (as DJ). It’s all happening this month at Dave Chappelle Live (8:00 pm; ticket prices vary by seat location; Radio City Music Hall at 1260 Sixth Avenue & 50th Street)…
…or see a one-woman cabaret show by guitar goddess Mrs. Smith (a.k.a. David Hanbury), whose credits include America’s Got Talent, PBS, and winning the 2016 Shred For Your Life contest at Webster Hall. Why guitar? “In my experience, which has been so very painful, no other instrument gives such a clear voice to the Grief and Rage.” Mrs. Smith also tells stories and provides advice (please find a sample here). For one night only: Mrs. Smith: Shred For Your Life (9:30 pm, $15, Joe’s Pub at 425 Lafayette Street, between East 4th Street & Astor Place)
For many more shows, please click the following links to top NYC comedy venues:
Best Inexpensive Stand-Up, Improv, Sketch, and Storytelling
Upright Citizens Brigade Chelsea
307 West 26th Street; 150-seater; one of the most respected comedy theatres in the world; especially strong on improv, sketch, solo shows, and one-act comedic plays; shows free-$10
Upright Citizens Brigade East
153 East 3rd Street; 99-seater; a top comedy venue that focuses more than sister theatre UCB Chelsea on stand-up and screenings, and on experimental shows taking big risks; shows free-$10
The PIT Striker (Upstairs) Theatre
123 East 24th Street; 88-seater; a top venue that’s a powerful rival of UCB, and often surpasses UCB when blending comedy with music and/or theatricality; shows free-$20
The PIT Loft
154 West 29th Street; 50-seater; the third of The PIT theatres, located separately on the West side, hosts a wide range of comedy, but is especially effective as a home for intimate solo and/or theatrical shows; free-$20
Best NYC Stand-Up Comedy Clubs
From legendary NYC comedy site Brooklyn Vegan: Thank God for Hy Bender’s religiously updated show bible BestNewYorkComedy.com…It must be exhausting keeping that monster of a website alive. It is your daily comedy itinerary and it scares me how on top of his shit this guy is.