Neal Medlyn is totally nice—which is not exactly what I expected. My first impression from his 9.10 show describes him as “Steve Carell in the 40 Year Old Virgin meets Marilyn Manson. ” I first saw him at the Works on 9.10, then yapped with him outside for awhile. I forgot that at TBA, not only can you go to all these amazing events, but you can chat up the artists afterwards. I saw him again on 9.11 before Kiki and Herb, and we chatted more. He has a really pleasant, sweet and humble demeanor that makes me want to be his buddy.
The late night show was a mix of rabid smiling, dancing like a fool, and sappy reminiscing. He alternated between melancholy yearning for estranged daughters—“they’ve gotten into “the Dr. Brommer’s version of religion, ‘all one all one all one all one all one…say it so many times and it’s really hard to take back”—and total spazzing. It’s a self-destructive show: the father character reveals to the audience that he’s taken poison which will kick in shortly, and each subsequent character is built up and then dramatically shredded to pieces as Neal wails around, strips off costumes and breaks out the distressed individuals beneath the facades.
There were some classic gags, like the 50s singer merrily belting out his white-washed tune then picking up a leather belt and choking himself during the bridge. In hilarious comic timing, he would drop the belt, spring back up, and continue singing and doing the running man. Neal transitions easily through characters, from the washed up 80s musician fond of orchestra hits (“so totally hot for awhile”) to the man singing Phantom of the Opera and shedding his clothes to scream “I ain’t got no privates!” complete with a skin-colored leotard with those same words Sharpied onto it. Neal is a master of the happy-go-lucky freak out, embodying stereotypical characters and lifting them like rocks to reveal the tempest of troubles beneath.
Freelance writer, enthusiast