NY Press

Tonight is "Penguin & Swollen Head" at Juvie Hall. There was a nice review of the show in New York Press today....



By Lionel Beehner

WEDNESDAYS AT JUVIE HALL A new theater has emerged in a basement on Bond Street. Juvie Hall, from the founder of Above Kleptomania, showcases an eclectic and experimental cast of sketch comedians. The theater is less a bunch of juvenile delinquents as its name suggests than a group of upstart performers with serious talent. Improv maestro Armando Diaz coaches from behind the scenes.

Wednesday nights feature an excellent combo of two one-man shows. First up is Penguin, a show by Adam Wade, a bespectacled 29-year-old with a New Hampshire accent and a confidence deficiency who chronicles his high school years through song and short monologues. He rhapsodizes and reminisces about failed romances, secret crushes and Winnebagos ("The world is an oyster? Fuck you, it's a Winnebago!"). His high school nickname was "Penguin Boy" (pronounced "pain-goowin boy"), hence the show's title. Anyone who's ever felt insecure or insignificant growing up will appreciate the show. Just don't expect his singing voice to move you to tears.

Keeping with the same theme, Rich Zeroth follows with Swollen Head, a multimedia slide-show, PowerPoint presentation and reality tv show wrapped into one. The show opens with a real-life taped recording of Zeroth as a fifth-grader who fakes his own encephalitis and misses 129 consecutive days of school. Goateed and clad in a red Michael Jordan t-shirt, Zeroth provides hilarious commentary over a slide show of grainy pictures of him and his humble Minnesotan family. "I had inadvertently made myself sick," he says of his ordeal. "Malnourished and dehydrated, I spent three days hooked up to an IV and had to use a bedpan." The show concludes with his telling the family many years later that he was never sick and it was all a prank (which he films by secret camera from their living room). The segment is so candid and real, it's hysterically funny (his sister and parents argue over who clogged the toilet with "poop").

Shrunken Head and Penguin are funny by not trying to be funny. There's no over-the-top humor or straight-up joke-telling. It's like listening to two average guys at a bar recount their funny memories from childhood. Pull up and have a seat—you'll enjoy what you hear.

Juvie Hall may emerge as one of the city's premier comedy venues, given its easy-going atmosphere, intimate stage and convenient location, (the space recalls UCB's humbler digs on 22nd St.). The lobby walls are painted bright purple and the waiting area consists of a collection of Salvation Army furniture (added bonus: a shower stall in the bathroom). The stage area is encased in black walls with a portrait of German playwright Bertolt Brecht clutching a cigar hanging from the wall, smiling at the audience.

Gene Frankel Theater, 24 Bond St. (betw. Bowery & Lafayette Ave.), 212-868-4444; 8, $7.

Volume 17, Issue 45

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