Yeah, But Not Right Now introduces A.J. Holmes’ one-man show of songs, stories and stand-up to New York after a run at the Edinburgh Fringe and The Adelaide Fringe Festivals. Seen previously as Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon both on Broadway and London’s West End, Holmes proves to be an animated, vivacious performer of what proposes to be an autobiographical show. He is so critical of himself that it is hard to know how much is true and how much is fiction. The title is a bit of a misnomer but is used as a lead-in to his first song warning us that he is a procrastinator. He explains how he grew up in a “musical comedy family” in suburban California, where his mother ended up Facebook friends with all the people he knew. Performing as a child, Holmes grew to love the attention and decided he could be whatever guy people wanted him to be, which is a fine trait for actors, but not so much boy-friend material. His gig on Broadway in The Book of Mormon led to him playing Brother Cunningham in the London production. This meant he had to leave his New York girlfriend back in Brooklyn.
With his name on the marquee on the West End, he began to get attention from attractive women and found he was looking for love in all the wrong places. Even after finding a permanent girlfriend, he was still cheating. As he tells us, clearly he was on a hunt for validation. After his time in London, he was sent on tour again. Now he’s back in New York at the SoHo Playhouse with his one-man show which appears to be validation enough.
Holmes’ songs include clever lyrics particularly “Facebook,” “I Can Be That Guy” and “Beautiful Girl in the Front Row.” His expert playing on the keyboard allows him to have duets with himself and making it sound like many instruments. He also accompanies himself on the guitar and a drum. The show is a confessional in which Holmes reveals the worst, most embarrassing parts of himself which seems to be the latest thing with comedians, except this show is partly sung. However, it is bright and upbeat even when telling unlikable characteristics. Craig Bundy’s sound design is usually clear, but occasionally makes it difficult to catch the lyrics. Director Caitlin Cook keeps this one-man show moving swiftly along.
Each performance is opened by a different comedian including Darren Chris, Taylor Tomlinson, Josh Johnson, Matteo Lane, Dan Soder, Josh Gondelman, Shane Torres, Sean Patton and more. At the performance under review the opener was witty New York-based stand-up comedian Marcia Belsky whose cutting-edge satire has made her a TikTok star. Among the several original songs she presented were “100 Tampons” (about a woman astronaut going into space and given a bag by NASA) and “Cops on Horse” about fiscal mismanagement in city politics. She is definitely a talent to watch.
Yeah, But Not Right Now (September 9 – October 17, 2021)
SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street, west of Sixth Avenue, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-691-1555 or visit http://www.sohoplayhouse.com
Running time: 90 minutes without an intermission