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Broadway review: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney kvetch up a comic storm in Oh, Hello

Broadway review: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney kvetch up a comic storm in Oh, Hello
Photograph: Joan Marcus

 

 

 

Oh, Hello marks the Broadway debut of Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, but you’ve probably met them before. Aging “legendary bachelors” who share a rent-controlled apartment on the Upper West Side—“the coffee breath of neighborhoods”—Gil and George are New York kibitzers of a vanishing type. Their pleated corduroys and turtlenecks, less lived-in than lived-out, bespeak personas frozen in the 1970s and early 1980s; their heroes include Steely Dan, Philip Roth, Richard Dreyfuss and Ed Koch.


Perhaps you have spotted them at diners, parks, used-book stores or Zabar’s counters. Or maybe you’ve seen them in sketches on Comedy Central’s Kroll Show, hosting a cable-access prank show called Too Much Tuna. Embodied with a gleeful blend of affection and mockery by Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, respectively, Gil and George are miraculous comic creations who have earned a well-deserved cult following. Oh, Hello on Broadway, directed by goofy-smart prince Alex Timbers, stretches the shtick to 95 minutes of metatheatrical horseplay. On a set made of leftovers from past Broadway productions, would-be actor Gil and would-be writer George present a play based on themselves; there are flashbacks and jokes about stage clichés, with control-freak George effectively playing Bert to Gil’s sweeter, softer Ernie.


The internal logic gets foggy, but Oh, Hello is really about watching Kroll and Mulaney do high-level tag-team comedy, in the great tradition of Mike Nichols and Elaine May and Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. If some of the tuna seems a bit canned, both comedians are superb improvisers, and the script leaves room for them to mix things up, notably in a 10-minute interview with a different celebrity each night. (Seth Meyers was the guest when I attended.) Deftly shuffling elements of recognition and surprise, Kroll and Mulaney keep the audience in giddy laughter. They make mustiness new, and they’re a New York City must.

Lyceum Theatre (Broadway). By Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. Directed by Alex Timbers. With Kroll, Mulaney. Running time: 1hr 35mins. No intermission. Through Jan 15. Click here for full ticket and venue information.

Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam

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