David Brenner at the Metropolitan Room (February 16, 2013)

February 16, 2013 | Cabaret | Tags:
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

David Brenner returns to New York City in his Homecoming Performance at the Metropolitan Room. The Metropolitan Room is the location of the original Gotham Comedy Club, where Brenner performed regularly in his early years. In a tour de force ninety-minute performance, Mr. Brenner laces the engaging story of his iconic career in comedy with an avalanche of humor that buries the audience in delightful laughter, delicious memories, and daring darts and the powers-that-be.

After warming up with charming stories about the Bitter End, the Johnny Carson Show, and the bookings which followed his first appearance on the show, Mr. Brenner delivers the best stand-up comedy any audience could ask for. Whether sharing gems of observational comedy (“the stupid things people do”) or the newer genre of comedy which counterpoints current events he pioneered twelve years ago, David Brenner creates comedy that satisfies and challenges the listener. For example, commenting on the current concern over creating stronger gun control, Mr. Brenner suggests re-writing the Second Amendment to define the right to bear arms to mean the right to wear short sleeves!

Perhaps the most intriguing perspective on David Brenner’s performance (and I hope David will not mind this comment) is that it ought to be a Master Class for educators, particularly those who seem confused about why our children in public schools are not graduating high school in higher numbers. Mr. Brenner’s performance is none other than the perfect example of authentic learning or, to use edu-speak, a problem based learning lesson. After producing 150 documentaries and sensing the need for a change, David watched a stand-up comedian perform and said to himself, “Wait, I can do that!” He then determined what he needed to do to achieve that goal, identified his motivation, and grappled (the key word) with a plan that would result in success. Task: to become a successful stand-up comedian. Strategy: to get on the Johnny Carson Show. Motivation: knowing he could do it and knowing he had to continue “to climb the hill” in order to do so. This street-smart (David’s phrase) young professional was determined to become a successful stand-up comedian and he has become perhaps the most successful comedian working in the genre today.

Thank you, David Brenner, for your humor, your keen awareness of the complexity of the human condition, your commitment to excellence, and your return to the room which still reverberates with the joy you shared there years ago. And thank you for reminding us to watch out for self-professed faith healers sporting depilated domes.