WHAT “Oh, Hello on Broadway”
WHERE Lyceum Theatre, 149 W. 45th St.
INFO $59-$149; 212-239-6200; ohhellobroadway.com
BOTTOM LINE Uneven exercise in absurdity
Oh, dear, what’s “Oh, Hello on Broadway” doing on Broadway?
You may well ask. And, depending on your threshold for the shaggy ridiculous, you may well keep asking yourself during much of the wildly uneven 95 minutes in which two comedians named Nick Kroll (“The Kroll Show” on Comedy Central) and John Mulaney (“Saturday Night Live”) pretend to be two aging, delusional, proudly nerdy losers from the Upper West Side named Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland.
This is a test. If those fictional names strike you as hilarious, or even oddly amusing, you may be the target audience for a scattershot creation in which preposterous pronunciations (scrin-WRITER for screenwriter, cuh-CAYNE for cocaine, brud-WAY for . . . oh, you get it) are running gags.
The word tuna must be intrinsically funny, because, at one point, Gil and George pitch an interview show titled “Too Much Tuna” to a TV producer and — here’s another supposed source of unexplained alleged humor — he’s the head of NY1, the local TV news channel.
But I digress. No, they do. The show, iterations of which have been enthusiastically embraced on the road and Off-Broadway, bungees around with absurd, occasional cleverness, with dated references to Blue Man Group and softball observations about theater cliches. The men toy with political incorrectness by making fun of an imagined intern named Ruvi working up in the booth.
Gil, the messy one with the fuzzy hair, still thinks he might be an actor. George, the tweedy one who claims his three wives all died by falling down the same staircase, believes himself a novelist. The crisis comes when they are asked to pay more for the $75 rent-controlled apartment they have shared for 40 years.
Alex Timbers, director of the hip “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and the cornball “Rocky,” encourages a breathless pace that suggests we are not meant to ponder too long on any of the foolishness. Scott Pask’s set is pretty wonderful, with hair-dryer chairs from “Terms of Endearment” and a “Pillowman” trap door. There’s a “surrealist ballet” and the “Too Much Tuna” scene nightly includes a celebrity guest interview. At the preview I attended, Paul Sorvino was the befuddled good sport, but audience members may also be summoned for pranking.
Gil and George ask, “How can you describe who we are?” Beats me, really.