Los Angeles Theater Review: WE SHOULD HANG OUT SOMETIME (Santa Monica Playhouse)

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by Samuel Garza Bernstein on July 8, 2019

in Theater-Los Angeles


This show-in-residence at the Santa Monica Playhouse (it plays most Friday nights) is a funny, exhilarating dive into comedian, best-selling author, Paralympic champion, and YouTube star Josh Sundquist’s sometimes bizarre, always engrossing experiences as a guy who, although he had plenty of friends and a great family, never had a real girlfriend.

Sundquist blends interactive elements with stand-up and a lot of physical comedy as he recounts seeking out and questioning former girlfriend candidates about why they rejected him. And happily, he does it totally without any creepy-stalker-guy vibe. It is based on his bestselling book of the same title that is currently being developed as a television project.

The fact that he has one leg has both everything and nothing to do with what makes this a unique theater experience. He uses his amazing physical strength, dexterity, and playfulness to great effect with pratfalls and stunts. And the story of his childhood cancer and growing up without a left leg is an important element. He also does a charming and sweetly silly section on trying to explain to small children on the street how one of his legs got sick and sort of… fell off.

“Look, Mommy, that man doesn’t have one of his legs!” he describes overhearing, laughing about the deadpan response of the little girl’s mother: “It happens.” Or being asked by a man on the street why he doesn’t have a “prostate.” Sundquist no longer chooses to wear a prosthetic leg, but as far as he knows, his prostate is intact. He just doesn’t like showing it to strangers.

So why did he spend so many years without a girlfriend? He’s open to the idea that it could have been because of the one-leg thing, but acknowledges thinking there must have been something else wrong with him. Propelled by the telltale forthrightness of a home-schooled kid who doesn’t understand the unwritten rules of dating and the razor-keen focus of a champion athlete, Sundquist embarks on his semi-scientific search for answers. Spoiler alert: He finds them.

Sunquist has a wonderfully goofy grin and it feels like he is looking you straight in the eye as he invites you to share the joke. He wonders at his own vanity in keeping things 100% about having one leg but being mortified by encroaching male pattern baldness and contemplating fake hair spray. He marvels at his own cluelessness upon realizing that he is not the center of the universe to every girl moving in and out of his orbit. And shots of his Halloween costumes alone are worth the price of admission.

What I love most about Sundquist, though, is that he’s a total pro. His unfailing charm and affability do not obscure his eagle-eyed pursuit of the callback joke nor his unerring instincts in finding the audience members best suited to participate. An earthquake hit the night we attended, and he didn’t skip a beat. He incorporated it into the show then went right back to where he left off, exhibiting the dual mindfulness of a true star.

He and wife Ashley Sundquist are methodically building a brand. That they go about it with such humor and grace is admirable. That they are fearless and doggedly persistent is what will make all the difference. If they conquer the world one day, I won’t be a bit surprised.

photos courtesy of the artist

We Should Hang Out Sometime
Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th St. in Santa Monica
Fridays at 8
for tickets, call 202.750.1154 or visit We Should Hang Out

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