Post image for Off-Broadway Review: JIMMY TINGLE: HUMOR AND HOPE FOR HUMANITY (SoHo Playhouse)

by Paola Bellu on May 12, 2024

in Theater-New York


Remember the 80s? Reaganomics here, Thatcherism abroad, apartheid, the tragedy of AIDS that ended up killing more than 700,000 people in the US alone, materialism, consumerism and lots of new music I still hear everywhere I go. The world premiere of Jimmy Tingle: Humor and Hope for Humanity, which opened tonight at SoHo Playhouse, is the latest show by the renowned comedian/political humorist and occasional actor, and for 80 minutes he draws a very human line from those years to now.

Jimmy Tingle (photo Ellen Shub)

It’s a funny, soul-searching journey from his Boston roots – a working class Catholic Irish family – as an aspiring comic who performed nonsensical sketches on Harvard Square to landing a spot on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1988. At the time, it was considered a miracle for any young comedian to perform in such a famous show, and Tingle made us experience how he felt with his joyful introduction to the video we were about to see: “Imagine, 50 million people watching you!”

Jimmy Tingle (photo Lisa Abitol)

It was his first appearance on network television to promote his comedy album Strange Bedfellows, and his jokes could be told today since these problems were never solved: “Congress recently voted against the proposal to have a 7-day period to buy a gun,” followed by a series of jokes about the absurdity of it, written long before the horror of frequent school massacres and mass shooting; “Two years ago the President started the War on Drugs, then he cut funding for the Coast Guard,” and you can imagine the many punchlines, and “We always have money for the Russians, they should move here,” considering the government always said we had no money for education, poverty, homelessness, health services but we had money for Star Wars (the Strategic Defense Initiative) even if the Russians couldn’t afford to attack us with intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Jimmy Tingle (photo Shahin Prentice II)

“A prophet?” he asks at the end of the video, and continues with the adventure that brought him to CBS where he completed two seasons with 60 Minutes II as the humorist/commentator in the Andy Rooney spot. Uplifting, clean, religious, tenacious, and in complete solidarity with the working class as a proud Bostonian, he enrolled in The Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and, in 2010, was chosen to give the Commencement address in front of thousands of people after he received his Masters Degree in Public Administration. To give you an idea of the character, Tingle ended up running for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. An honest fellow with a big heart, everybody’s funny uncle who makes Thanksgiving dinner a blast: “I don’t want to brag but years ago I performed in Europe. I’d just like to say ‘excellent country!’” The jokes and delivery are a bit dated, but his charm is undoubtedly real.

Jimmy Tingle (photo Mark Ostow)

photos from previous Tingles

Jimmy Tingle: Humor and Hope for Humanity
SoHo Playhouse and Tingle Productions
SoHo Playhouse’s downstairs Huron Room, 15 Vandam St.
Thurs & Fri at 7; Sat at 7 & 9; Sun at 5 (dark May 17)
ends on June 2, 2024
for tickets ($35.50 including fee), visit SoHo Playhouse
for more info, visit Jimmy Tingle

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