Ted Greenberg's THE COMPLETE PERFORMER
nytheatre.com review by Ethan Angelica
August 11, 2008
It's best to use the bathroom before you strap in for the half-hour rollicking roller coaster ride that awaits you at this show at the Jazz Gallery. Although a disembodied voice admonishes those in line that "it's Ted Greenberg, it's not Shakespeare," you won't want to be the unfortunate soul that misses a second of the rapid-fire hilarity that is The Complete Performer. (Or, worse, the sucker who gets dragged onstage with wet pants.) In fact, I'm still trying to figure out how he packed so much into his tiny time slot.
Greenberg, the only standup comic in this year's FringeNYC, is perhaps the king of stunts. His show rings of Letterman, for whom he was an Emmy-winning writer, and definitely delivers. Standing alongside his official not-just-for-sports-teams doppelganger mascot (Aaron Pratt, who, in his fuzzy, oversized head, is a perfect sidekick), Greenberg glides seamlessly from improv to magic to mind-reading, stealing prompts from his audience and bringing everyone along for the ride. Greenberg is his own subject of scrutiny, placing himself in the pantheon of proud turtleneck wearers (with the help of some magic playing cards), recounting his reasons for marriage (not what you'd expect), and displaying his supernatural mentalist powers (which are, indeed, somewhat suspect). While Greenberg's act is entirely participatory, even the most introverted audience member will feel fully included. Not a huge fan of being "the participant," I stayed enthralled throughout, and was even inclined to throw out a few of my own suggestions. However, if you are the vocal type (and even if you're not), you may very well find yourself nominated for one of Greenberg's audience participation awards, or the recipient of his "awesome" onstage giveaway.
What I most admire about Greenberg's act is that he manages to keep us laughing with the most positive humor. His jokes aren't mean, or even terribly unsettling. For a half-hour, he strings together a series of bits that are in-and-of-themselves fun and funny. It is very clear that Greenberg and his consultants (Steve Rosenfield and Matt Wayne) have carefully crafted each segment, as every joke landed with just about every audience member, from the 10 year-old in the front row to the elderly gentleman behind me. The show is really a dialogue with his audience, as he and his named members (at my show, favorites included "Sunglasses Guy" and "Guy Who Says Nothing") fly from bit to bit smoothly and to seriously comic effect. And, like the best of 'em, he leaves you wanting much, much more.
This show marks Greenberg's first solo venture, and it is certainly a powerhouse opening. He kept a full house roaring for 30 very full minutes, without a two-drink minimum. His show is more than worth your time. In fact, you'll wonder where it went!