Alison Leiby’s Oh God, A Show About Abortion is probably the most level-headed work about that much debated subject, perhaps too level-headed. While the United States is going through social and political paroxysms over a leaked Supreme Court argument that portends the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Leiby’s matter-of-fact attitude toward the subject is a balm.
Her hour-long standup routine treats abortion as just another medical procedure, nothing to get excited about, totally avoiding the possibility of having second thoughts of any kind. At one point she compares being unexpectedly pregnant to covering a cockroach with a Tupperware, knowing that you just want to get rid of it. It’s an uncouth metaphor, but quite in line with Oh God’s purposely casual tone which is matched by Leiby’s outfit: dark t-shirt and comfortably worn out jeans.
She speaks with wit about the sex education of women, or, the lack thereof, as compared with men. The Barbie doll seems to have had a major impact on her romantic life along with the barrage of commercials and media imagery distorting women’s feelings of sexuality and self-worth. She puts contraception advertisements through her vivid comic grinder, making fun of their names and methods—Yaz and Phexxi, anyone?
Her incisive analysis of women’s periods is both astonishing and funny. (Little do men know just how much of a woman’s life is consumed by this monthly “ritual.”)
Her own abortion in 2019 is the eponymous source of this monologue. While on tour in Missouri, Leiby (one of the writers on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) is surprised to discover that she was pregnant after having unprotected sex. Her experience finding and using a pregnancy test in a CVS in Missouri is amusingly frustrating.
She hoped that her own gynecologist in New York City would perform the procedure, but, to her dismay, her doctor didn’t do that kind of work. So, she gravitated quite naturally to Planned Parenthood in NYC where the abortion went off without a snag, an activity scheduled amongst a busy day of activities.
She makes it abundantly clear that she never, ever wanted children, however disappointing that decision was to her mother to whom Leiby often turned. Her mother is a fervent, lifelong abortion proponent.
Oh God’s greatest strengths lie in Leiby’s ability to tell her story in everyday language laced with the proper amount of expletives and knowing just how to put across her story after years of stage and club experiences.
Lila Neugebauer has directed the show with a good feel for this comic’s natural rhythm and her relatable personality.
Oh God, A Show About Abortion could not have come at a better time. Whatever side one takes on this important issue and however worried one is about the upcoming Court decision, Leiby’s show illuminates the subject with humor and an offhanded charm.
Oh God, A Show About Abortion (return engagement: August 8 – 26, 2022)
Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit http://www.OhGodShow.com
Running time: 70 minutes without an intermission