By Mindy Raf; Directed by Tara Elliott
Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 11.11.16
The PIT Loft, 154 West 29th Street
by Lexi Orphanos on 11.5.16
Writer/performer Mindy Raf in her new solo-show, Keeping My Kidneys
BOTTOM LINE: Mindy Raf’s Keeping My Kidneys demystifies love, loss, sexuality, and weed-lube while remaining true to the sharp mind and millennial quips of real women.
When Mindy Raf was ten years old, her mom told her that Baby in Dirty Dancing had to get her kidneys removed because she dated someone who didn’t love her. Years later, Mindy realized that this was her mother’s own very special way of avoiding the topic of abortion. This is the Mindy’s ridiculous—but true— world.
Everyone has a million questions and opinions on modern romance, and Mindy Raf has a refreshing set of answers in her new solo show Keeping my Kidneys. Mindy takes on mansplaining, masturbation, polyamory, and weed-lube while remaining hilariously quirky and innocent in her wide-legged overalls and polka dot top. Raf is no stranger to tackling the litany of problems modern females face—she’s been featured in the Women in Comedy Festival, several engagements at the PIT and UCB, writes for MTV’s beloved Girl Code, and in 2013 published her first (and well-received) novel under Penguin Books, The Symptoms of My Insanity. As a standup fan who has seen comics like Aziz Ansari, Hannibal Buress, and John Mulaney perform live sets, I was impressed by the high comedic bar Mindy Raf set for the night. She is refreshingly polished while still being the kick-ass, real woman that you’ve been waiting for. Bravo.
Like her book, her solo show revolves around how her life changed when confronted with the possibility of losing her mother. Raf opens the show by explaining how a jolly folk-singing session by her mother's side in the hospital accidentally led her to promise to get married. Mindy flashes between memories with her mother and current confusion with her fiancée, Antonia. Raf has always struggled with giving over to the “what ifs?” in life, as becomes central to the show. As any audience member can relate to, Raf hits the nail on the head with her personal stories about caring too much and talking too loudly just because of social pressures. Even sexuality comes into play, as Raf opens up about her exploration into bisexuality and polyamory. However, Raf doesn’t approach this in the same way that your peer leaders would run a GSA meeting back in high school. We veer away from the typical, overly PC model of approaching sexuality, and get a refreshing look at what discovering sexuality is really like. As a bonus, there’s no need to sing a musical number about it here.
Long story short, anyone on the spectrum will want to get a drink with Mindy Raf and give her a high-five after seeing her hour-long show at the PIT Loft. Finally someone is bringing humor and—most importantly —normality to parts of the human psychology and emotional life that are far too often romanticized, or even fetishized. We’re in a time when we need someone with “a narrow cervix, but a wide, big heart.” Mindy Raf proves that when you have a big enough heart, it’s impossible to stifle your true self, and the world can work out and resolve itself in mysterious ways—so mysterious that sometimes, you don’t even need a powerhouse ending for your show and the audience will still cheer and love it all the same.
(Keeping my Kidneys plays at The PIT Loft, 154 W 29th Street, through November 11, 2016. The running time is one hour with no intermission. Remaining performances are Wednesday at 7:30, Thursday at 9, and Friday at 7:30. Tickets at $5 general admission and are available at thepit-nyc.com or by calling (212)-563-7488)
Keeping my Kidneys is written and performed by Mindy Raf. Directed by Tara Elliott. Technical direction by Anna Grace Carter. Produced by The Peoples Improv Theatre.