EmptyBrentwood Theatre, Brentwood
Through March 24
It's a rare show in the legitimate theater when the performance is not preceded by a sepulchral voice reminding you to turn off your cell phone.
Well, maybe the Brentwood Theatre's not the legitimate theater for the next few weeks. It's been taken over by everybody's favorite motormouth Scottish comedian, Billy Connolly, who delivers a nonstop two-hour monologue goring oxen all over the place, and keeping the audience in laughter verging on tears by doing so. So, the occasional cell phone going off would only add to the hilarity.
In the context of today's absurd world, where "the best golfer's black, the best rapper's white, and there are two wars with no Germans," the relentlessly exuberant Glaswegian takes on, in no particular order, defending L.A., 24-hour taxidermists, dolphins, the Truth About Toasters, Ann Coulter, theatrical critics, ghost hunting, sheep, sex with supermodels ("like being in bed with a bicycle") and feng shui ("the flow of bullshit in any given room").
Some of Connolly's extended shticks are priceless, particularly the Dog on the Movie Set and the Three Vomiters. His alleged mantra is mood bracelets and other remnants of the New Age '90s, and he rages about his topics with a steady stream of four-letter words that rarely fail to achieve their desired effect. He's like Sean Connery in a grey panther's fright wig, holding his audience willing hostages in a comedy prison, with bits of Monty Python thrown in for good measure.
Of course, it depends on whose ox is being gored (mine was feng shui, and it definitely wounded me), and there was one politically correct member of the audience whom I overheard afterward telling her coterie that Connolly's goring of feminism was "rather awful" and his language "inappropriate." She was, I suppose, the exception who proved his point.
Occasionally between bouts of story telling the self-proclaimed, "sixty fuckin' four"-year-old Connolly reflects on the nature of comedy. "I don't know much about comedy," he claims, "I just like to be there when it happens." Near the end of the show, he takes a few minutes to solve the problems of the world, which mostly have to do fire engines, reversing trucks, suicide bombers, Jews, Mormons, virgins and whores.
When Connolly runs out of breath, which happens every now and then, you can see that it's a well-calculated comedy routine, not just a good ol' boy rambling on, Scottish style. But it is surprisingly good-natured, nonvitriolic fun all the way, and, especially considering that his material probably varies from night to night, he's likely to pack them in tight for his brief Brentwood stay.
BILLY CONNOLLY LIVE
Presented by Westbeth Entertainment
Writer: Billy Connolly
Lighting designer: Gregg Bellon
Set designer: Steve Brown
Performer: Billy Connolly