Off-Broadway Theater Review: JOAN RIVERS LIVE AT TIMES SQUARE (Laurie Beechman Theater)

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by Alexander Harrington on September 11, 2010

in Theater-New York


Joan Rivers’ energy is more entertaining than her material.  Never one for crisp, understated delivery, she gushes out her monologues, stepping on every punch line with “Oh my God …,” “Oh, oh, oh…,” half-laughs, and gagging sounds (“Can we talk, here” seems to have gone the way of the dodo).  While not snappy, this onslaught of energy is infectious, and her crass, materialistic JAM (Jewish American Matron) persona is funny.  That she can sustain this tidal wave of vulgarity at the age of 77 (sorry, Joan) is astounding.

Rivers’ act consisted of three types of joke:  (1) making politically incorrect cracks about people and groups she hates (Helen Keller, cancer patients, cripples – she did not say handicapped, disabled, differently-abled, or physically challenged, so neither will I – fat people, thin people, and blind people), (2) sex jokes, and (3) materialistic JAM jokes.  For the most part, this was adolescent.  In high school, my friends and I all read Truly Tasteless Jokes and told them; we told JAP jokes, and it goes without saying that we made sex jokes.  Most comedians do sex routines and make shocking remarks about sacred cows, and this is often adolescent – and adolescent humor is funny.  Most great comedians, however, make jokes on a variety of topics, and mix the adolescent with the sophisticated.  For the most part, Rivers’ repertoire is limited to high school fare.

Still, she had a number of hysterical bits.  In a riff on swallowing at the climax of blow jobs, she compared the Weight Watchers’ points for sperm to that for pancakes.  Later she told us that her cousin was pulled from the rubble of the Port-au-Prince Nieman-Marcus, but went back under for her receipt.  She ended the evening complaining that, with the exception of gold, the three wise men brought Jesus lousy gifts.

And, as I said at the outset, despite the limited range of her jokes, Joan Rivers’ energy and character make for a fun evening.

Joan Rivers Live at Times Square
Laurie Beechman Theater
West Bank Cafe at 407 West 42nd Street
ends on November 17, 2010
for tickets, visit Ovation Tix

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