Review of Broadway “Oh, Hello” – Repulsive Old Geezers Having Audiences Rolling on the Floor

Is it the Odd Couple all over? The comic anticsĀ of Nick Kroll and John Mulaney hilariously skewer theatrical conventions in a hilarious show that makes Broadway feel like the place to be.

Gil Faizon and George St Geegland those legends of public access television, icons of the Upper West Side, and superstars of ill-fitting sweater vests have finally made it to the main stem with Oh, Hello on Broadway, which George describes as a love letter to theater. Or, as Gil suggests, more of a stalker’s note scrawled in lipstick on a mirror. Despite the fact that this show, directed by Alex Timbers, is silly, crude, and wildly indulgent, it is also uproariously, rib-tickling funny.

These 70-year old grotesques are the alter egos of the comics Nick Kroll (Gil) and John Mulaney (George), first developed on alternative comedy stages and more recently seen on The Kroll Show in the segment “Too Much Tuna.”

Photograph: Peter Yang

In a loose introductory segment, Gil, an actor, and George, a playwright and suspect in multiple murder investigations, introduce themselves as the orange pekoe teabag staining the countertop of American culture. They then skewer various theatrical conventions the one-sided phone call, the shouted revelation and finally segue into a play that George has written for himself and Gil to perform. In the midst of the play, there is a Too Much Tuna segment, and on a critics night Seth Meyers was the sporting and only vaguely mortified interviewee. A typical softball question: Why do you hate Jews so much? There is also a dream ballet, a series of gyrations that an audience will never be able to unsee.

The show probably shouldn’t work as well as it does. Kroll and Mulaney don’t always play the characters consistently (when it seems like too much effort, they just play themselves) and they crack themselves up habitually. But the pleasure they take in the exercise is obvious and infectious. Yes, they are probably enjoying themselves more than anyone else in the audience, but they are enjoying themselves to such an outrageous, overwhelming, ecstatic degree that this is not faint praise.

And the writing, though variable, has more than its share of semi-precious gems. To try to scribble them all down would leave any critic with carpal tunnel. But they manage to wring jokes from such unpromising subjects as Werthers Originals, Steely Dan, eczema cream and the Toyota Camry. Even ones that shouldn’t kill do, like a description of one of those large, New York City diners where even the ice cream is bad, because Mulaney and Kroll have a way of delivering each line with a proprietary mix of disgust and amusement that leaves the audience howling and makes the somewhat staid environs of the Lyceum seem like the place to be, a rarity on Broadway.

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