I don’t know that I have the capacity to boil all of humanity down to a simple equation. Math was never my subject.
And even if it were, I have to think the equation would look very different depending on whether I was walking through the park, hanging out with my friends, or, for example, watching footage from the Republican National Convention.
But CJ is putting her training as an economist to work and giving it a shot in her one-woman show, The Human Algorithm.
CJ’s confident energy blasts to the forefront right from the beginning as she takes the stage to the sound of her heels clack-clacking on the hardwood floors at Caos on F.
Her material is brought forward in much the same way. The first story in her hour-long comedic-event takes the audience to Alaska for the famed Iditarod. There, CJ tells us of her time serving on the “pee-team,” a group of volunteer drug-testing agents tasked with collecting dog urine for anti-doping checks before the race.
Later on, CJ shares an adventure in Manhattan that involves a Muppet, a cocktail dress, and a world leader who’s very much in the news of late. This one you deserve to hear first-hand.
The Human Algorithm
Written and performed by CJ
But CJ’s message isn’t simply that she did something ridiculous things in Alaska or accosted a head of state. The show’s arc comes from her use of “pee-teams,” Muppets, and other artifacts of her life as a backdrop for a more self-reflective message: That even a self-described “Sex and the City Gal in full makeup” needs to be able to laugh at herself.
The capacity to do just that is the first input in her algorithm. And while I won’t spoil the other three inputs here, I will say that over the course of her hour, CJ puts her infectious energy and her Ted-talk-like mannerisms to work as she attempts to prove that humanity really can be measured.
I wouldn’t say that I necessarily left the show convinced. In fact, considering both the premise and the title promised a hard-and-fast answer to the human condition, I found myself searching for catharsis on the way out.
That doesn’t mean the effort wasn’t there. CJ employs some light audience participation to conduct her own variety of the Myers-Briggs on the audience, then maps it against her equation. This gives the show some refreshing variety, breaking up what could have been an ultimately sleepy affair.
Points for effort. What’s less clear is exactly what message our fearless leader intended us to walk away with. For me, the result was less “I see!” and more “I guess?”
It’s hard to know if others felt the same way, but since CJ kept the audience laughing most of the way through, no one seemed to mind one way or another.
Which brings me to the humor itself. Throughout my time at The Human Algorithm, I smiled most of the way through, giggled a few times at some of the more surprising moments, and found myself nodding my head during a more poignant story about a man and his prosthetic limbs. I’d consider that a decent enough show.
“Decent,” however, wouldn’t suffice for the audience around me, who roared with laughter again and again and again.
One couple in particular nudged and pointed at each other in an “oh that’s so you” kind of way from beginning to end. If I didn’t know better, I’d guess the whole experience inspired them to rush off and renew their vows at Fort Fringe after the show.
Maybe it was my long week at work or the head cold I carried in with me that left me tickled rather than aching with laughter. Humor is, after all, a fickle art.
So since The Human Algorithm has a bit of a quantitative flair, I suppose it’s best to let the numbers speak for themselves and say this: Go see it.
Whether or not you take that advice may depend on your own human algorithm, or what CJ might describe as the level of “control freak” inside of you (damn, spoiled another one).
Just know that people absolutely loved it. And if you hear laughter spilling out of a room, isn’t it at least worth poking your head in?