Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I saw "Avenue Q"

I had this idea that if I gave myself a more structured assignment for writing in 2016 it would be easier. I am a bubbling fountain of ideas that are theoretically valid and probably actually ridiculous. Maybe like it’s a chocolate milk fountain.

My goal is to see a show in New York every week, and post on Thursdays. Or, almost every week, because you never know. Do I need to explain why a chocolate milk fountain is a bad idea? Stickiness and spoilage are probably the two primary reasons. These might come in handy as reasons why almost any of my ideas is bad. Or should I say, “are bad?”

What I saw: Avenue Q
What I wore: dirty jeans and Danner boots
What I did beforehand: ate ramen
Who went with me: the Graduate
How I got tickets: online, the day before, full price
Why I saw this show: because people ask me if I’ve seen it
Where did I sit: the front row, on the end. It was a bit too close because the puppets never made eye-contact with us.
Things that were sad: (see end)
Things that were funny: (see end)
Things that were not funny: the character whose main comedic attribute was her Asian accent, or her two master’s degrees, or her name; the gentle joy of puppets talking about racism amongst friends, as if white supremacy was a Whoopsy!-side-effect rather than the product of hundreds of years of coordinated oppressive effort.

But, hey, whatev. You can have drinks during the show.
The theater (New World Stages) is in a “Cineplex beaten into a theaterplex;” it has two bars, plenty of women’s bathrooms (I shouldn’t have to comment about this, but I will), and the ambiance of a Futureland amusement park gift shop lobby.

What it is: a funny, snarky musical, conceived about 12 years ago, masterfully executed by a lively cast of talented singing actors, some of whom can do puppets, and a couple of whom can do one puppet and voice another puppet also onstage at the same time. Lots of singing pop songs about the indignities of young adulthood, with puppets. Avenue Q is set on an imaginary street in a make-believe Brooklyn-ish place and has simulated sex acts between puppets and puppet nudity, and some cussing, but not, like, a whole fucking lot of it.

Who should see it: grown-up people who like funny musicals, and people who don’t know what schadenfreude is.

While we laughed a lot, I left feeling like the show is a little dated, though certainly not in subject matter. None of the young people portrayed carried a smartphone all the time, and I felt like the show was missing a song about Snapchat or Tinder.

One of the women next to us has seen it three times. At intermission, her guest pinched the cocktail waiter on the butt, and then told him she needed to pinch the other side so it wouldn’t be jealous. He had a man-bun and a smartphone in his hand, with one of those white square dongles for paying by credit-card swipe, and as he slid past another row of potential customers, uttered the best line of the night, to people behind me, who were not ordering drinks: “It’s ok. I see you’re carefully avoiding eye-contact.”

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