Running with Harris this morning was a thrill. He asked if I wanted to do a shorter route, or if I wanted to do the northern route, and I was like, hey! I have nothing else to do, hells yes I want the northern route! I have to run, to feel good. Every day. I am addicted. It's a fact.
In the afternoon, Kelly joined me to see Michael Phillis' DOLLS. We'd met Michaels dads outside ALBGDP on Tuesday night, and they told us about him and the fact that he was not only in ABE LINCOLN, but that he had his own solo performance about, well, dolls. There is something about meeting a guy's parents that makes you need to see their work.
And it is a delightful show - he's really good. Very funny, and more than funny. Very talented and a highly enjoyable hour, he really works well with a close, intimate crowd - and I am so glad we got in, it was very well attended.
Speaking of which ... my show had a smaller audience than last night. Thirteen audience members. And I knew pretty much every one of them. I had cousins from Philadelphia who came in, and from New Hampshire. Tracey came from BARGAINS & BLOOD, parents of my children's friends, and even the professional actor son of one of my favorite English teachers from high school. And Eva Dean and maybe one or two people I did not know at all.
And it went much better than last night - much more relaxed, very comfortable with my story. It went very well ... though I am a little daunted. I mean, if everyone I know came tonight ... what hope do I have of complete strangers showing up? And believe me, short of throwing a lot of money at the problem, I have worked so hard to get people to attend. Met a lot of folks, handed out a lot of cards, there is little else I can do.
Afterwards, we went to this bar, where I still sit with the remnants of this evening's party (Harris, Sam & Kelly) and had a big hurrah when the word came in on everyone's smart phones that WE HAVE A REVIEW.
Time Out New York
**** [FOUR STARS] David Hansen’s autobiographical one-man show, about his lifelong obsession with long-distance running, is a simple and tragic yet reaffirming tale, told earnestly and with minimal poetics. There’s no irony, no wacky AV visuals, no Fringe Festy Negro spirituals in space: how refreshing to be touched by something real. Better known as Pengo, Hansen is a Harvey Pekar–like cartoonist (his well-reviewed graphic novel is titled I Hate This), living in Cleveland with his wife and two children; after a family tragedy, he’s inspired to run the New York Marathon. Onstage, he re-creates that race, interweaving it with flashbacks from his youth (fat dad), teens (awkward first kiss), twenties (joblessness) and thirties (obesity, depression). But despite the hardships it details, And Then You Die is no downer: We hear about Hansen’s rebounds, too, and his emotionally—and, at times, physically—naked performance balances the pathos with high energy. According to my watch, the piece clocks in at 75.3 minutes, about 15 minutes longer than its goal time; a virtual run through Cleveland goes nowhere, as do a few when-I-was-young memories. But the heart is always there. At one point, his daughter asks Hansen if he’s going to “win the marathon.” No matter what happened in the race, kid, trust me: Your dad’s a winner.—Michael Freidson, editor-in-chief