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Dumber Faster

nytheatre.com review by David Fuller
August 12, 2012

Dumber Faster is a 45 minute monologue of often self-deprecating humor by David Mogolov, who explores instances of his own past stupidities in search of reconciliation between the “smart” new technologies and the inherent limitations of human interactions. Are we in fact getting dumber as we move along at a faster pace?

Directed by Steve Kleinedler, Mogolov has an easy rapport with the audience, one that engagingly draws us in, welcoming his musings.

Mogolov starts out by comparing his need for his smart phone to his two year old daughter’s need for her stuffed monkey: “She needs that monkey. If it’s not with her, she has to know where it is. To me, this seems irrational, but then I think of my phone, and remember the panic I feel when I can’t find it. My phone is exactly like her monkey, except that I pet my phone more than she pets the monkey.”

And what is “smart?” He confesses that he never used to need glasses but affected wearing them in high school because he wanted to look smart. He found a pair of prescription glasses and began wearing them over his 20/20 vision. After a time, he really needed glasses. To look smart he was really pretty dumb. But that was okay since he says he needs to appear intelligent because he has a lousy work ethic: “I need to look smarter by an amount at least equal to the hard work I’m not going to put in.”

Funny stuff. In an erudite sort of way, which is Mologov’s style. He has a way of slipping in the comedy sort of a sideways while telling us his experiences. It’s like a running gag of his own tacit acknowledgement of the irony of his life.

Most of the performance is spent detailing ten instances of how he may look smart but he has done some pretty stupid things. The stories are entertaining and humorous and resonate to humanity at large.

And there is an interesting underlying thesis that perhaps we all tend towards actions that reinforce our own cognitive bias of the world. Though we may have the world at our fingertips we seek out and sift for viewpoints similar to our own. He tells us, “We all think we see things exactly as they are, and we forget that there are things we’re not seeing at all. We’re always surprised when people see things differently, or think we’ve done something foolish.”

Everyone else is the “Other.” We don’t dialogue among divergent opinions any more, we reinforce our own viewpoints. Mogolov tells us he can’t even reconcile a dialogue with himself over what type of sandwich to eat. He always orders something spicy even though he knows his stomach can’t handle it.

So, how smart are we actually becoming in this mega-information gigabyte age? Since it appears that all the world’s information is now available at our fingertips, we feel confident, but we must be cautious. He ends with a very funny tale about how he went surfing, having never been near the ocean but having “learned” about it on the internet. He ended up with a broken foot. “Google and Facebook can’t match the ocean for teaching a lesson,” he tells us.

For a dumb comic, that’s pretty smart.