I was surprised at how little I laughed during Oh, Hello on Broadway, a comedy act by Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, who have been called “two of the hottest voices in comedy.” They portray Gil Faizon, a “Tony Award viewing” actor, and George St. Geegland, a failed novelist, who have been roommates for 40 years.
Kroll and Mulaney began playing these two characters about a decade ago, when, as they tell interviewers, the two friends noticed two older men in turtle neck shirts and blazers at New York’s Strand bookstore buying separate copies of Alan Alda’s autobiography, “Never Have Your Dog Stuffed.” The comics followed the men to a diner, where they sat together reading their separate copies. “These guys share a Murphy bed,” Kroll recently said, “but they would not share their Alan Alda autobiography.”
More production photos at NewYorkTheater.me
Gil and George have been good to them, figuring first in sketches that Kroll and Mulaney performed in a grungy East Village comedy club called Rififi (which has since closed.) The characters were then featured in short videos online, then in segments of “The Kroll Show” on Comedy Central , in which Gil and George were the hosts of “The Oh Hello Show,” a parody “public access prank show”, in which they served guests a large overstuffed tuna sandwich. “The Kroll Show” was canceled, and The Oh, Hello Show moved Off-Broadway, where it opened and then closed last December, then went on tour.
Along the way, the characters have won what one could call a cult following; the producers of Oh Hello on Broadway are banking it’s a large enough following to fill Broadway’s Lyceum Theater until January.
What’s on stage at the Lyceum is not quite a real play with a plot, but also not quite a series of comedy sketches. It’s reminiscent of Wayne’s World, but without the narrative consistency, and The Pee-Wee Herman Show but without the colorfully inventive design. (There is one puppet, Tony Tuna.) It’s 100 anarchic minutes of shtick and weirdness and throwaway notions and one-liners and scenes that mock the idea of scenes — the characters read aloud the stage directions, and make fun of such theatrical conventions as the one-sided telephone conversation. About halfway through, they offer a live episode of their Too Much Tuna parody prank show, in which an oversized tuna salad is delivered from above to a celebrity guest they’ve just interviewed; on the night I saw Oh Hello on Broadway, the guest was talk show host Seth Meyers.
Much of Oh Hello on Broadway struck me as inside jokes that everybody in the audience seemed to get except me:
“You know when you’re walking by a travel agency and you’re like….what?!” George says at one point. “Well when we walk by a travel agency we think: ‘Oh sure.’”
Some of the inside jokes landed for me: At the “billion-dollar headquarters” of the (actually low-budget) local cable news channel New York 1. “there is a glass trophy case filled with xeroxes of other peoples’ Emmy Awards. “
There was one line that any theatergoer could get:
“Theater is the hot new thing right now. There’s Hamilton…and no other examples.”
But that’s no joke.
Oh, Hello on Broadway is on stage at the Lyceum Theater (149 West 45th Street
Between Broadway and 6th Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10036) through January 8, 2017.
Tickets and details
Oh, Hello on Broadway written by and featuring Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, directed by Alex Timbers, scenic design by Scott Pask, costume consultant Emily Rebholz, lighting design by Jake DeGroot, sound design by M.L. Dogg. Basil Twist (Nightmare Effect Design), Patrick McCollum (Movement Consultant), ELeah Loukas (Wig Consultant), and Annamarie Tendler Mulaney (Makeup). Reviewed by Jonathan Mandell.