Get Rich Cheating
nytheatre.com review by Matthew Freeman
August 15, 2010
Jeff Kreisler's Get Rich Cheating is a funny satirical attack on the culture of greed. With touches of audience participation, Kreisler's aim is to demonstrate to his audience that cheating goes alongside baseball and apple pie as quintessential Americana.
The show is staged like a self-help seminar, with Kreisler taking the role of a Tony Robbins. He shamelessly raises up the worst excesses of capitalism as examples of good behavior. A typical moment would be a PowerPoint slide of Jeffrey Skilling (of Enron infamy) and a reminder that Enron had dummy companies that were so transparent, they were called Jedi and Raptor. Instead of treating this as clumsy deception, Kreisler treats Skilling, and others like him, as heroic examples of boldness and brains.
It is, at its heart, a standup routine with all that standup does well. Kreisler has an amiable stage presence. The material is timely and well-informed. Wisecracks about Bernie Madoff, Goldman Sachs, and Sarah Palin abound, all with a wink.
Kreisler brings a standup comic's sensibility to the role, toying with the audience with a good-natured rib here and there, but always seemingly aiming to please. He's quick, he's likeable, and he's got a good command of the material.
If there's a flaw with the stage performance, it's that it never feels angry or dangerous. Kreisler's distance from his persona never makes his argument truly persuasive or chilling. Neither does he seem righteous. It's topical humor, it's cathartic enough, but never delves, never touches a nerve.
Kreisler's book by the same name (which can be found here) is nearly 400 pages. The show is perhaps best described as the Cliff's Notes of—or, less charitably—a commercial for, the book. There's evidence on stage that the book is funny (the show is funny too) but my guess is that his best material is on the page.