In the guise of two old Upper West Side bachelor geezers, Kroll as failed actor, Gil Faizon, and Mulaney as failed writer, George St. Geegland, wander about Pask’s brilliant combination apartment/beauty salon/TV studio/street set, musing out loud about their lives, wearing dreadful wigs (credit Leah Loukas) and speaking in a bizarre accent which, for example, turns “Broadway” into “broodway,” “an” into “en” and “homage” into “home page.”
Oh, Hello has its roots in The Kroll Show on Comedy Central (2013 – 2015) and Too Much Tuna which ran on public access TV. Their reputations have preceded them. At the performance under review, the Lyceum Theatre was full of fans who appeared to gobble down every morsel of faux, distasteful witticisms tossed willy-nilly at them, the more tasteless, the better.
This is not to say that Kroll and Mulaney are lacking in wit. The list of producers on the title page of their program, for example, manages to induce a few knowing chuckles. Indeed, their observations of New York City foibles rang true more than once. Their sly comments on the 2016 theater scene, beginning with a tongue-in-cheek appraisal of the Lyceum, a dig at Hamilton, riffs on Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Ionesco’s The Chairs, and a offhand comment about stagehand union rules evoked knowing guffaws.
Yet they feel the need to spout distasteful opinions on subjects like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, orthodox Jews and Jamaican cuisine while also coming far too close to racist humor teasing their never seen, unpaid, NYU intern (probably fictional), Ruvi Nandan , who tests their patience as he supposedly runs the technical aspects of the show.
They recreate their oddball talk show, Too Much Tuna, an excuse to bring a guest performer onto the stage. The evening I caught the show, the guest was the indefatigable star of School of Rock, Alex Brightman, who seemed annoyed at the antics of the hosts of this mythical, wobbling, cheapie chat show which takes its title far too seriously.
There is also a long sequence that follows the two silly guys after they’ve been evicted from their apartment and find themselves living in Riverside Park leading to the best joke of the evening involving Gil’s romance with a female raccoon that turns out to be a possum in a mask.
In the final analysis, Oh, Hello and its two malapropism-prone stars will attract fans who love this kind of wise-ass humor, but, for me, the nasty tone outweighs their cleverness.
Alex Timbers, the director, must have done what he could to shape the show and keep it going, but was ultimately defeated by the free-wheeling performers.
Oh, Hello on Broadway (through January 22, 2017)
Lyceum Theatre, 149 West 45th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit http://www.Telecharge.com
Running time: one hour and 40 minutes with no intermission