BOTTOM LINE: An awesome Bro Comedy. I laughed til I cried. Grab a few beers beforehand and take some dudes.
We all have these crazy, unrealized ambitions that we pointlessly fixate on. Not the ones like, opening your own restaurant or getting washboard abs. I'm talking about building your own robot, punching the kid who was a total dick to you in 9th grade in the face, and finally telling that sadist hairdresser to go f*ck off, because her "work" made school a living hell. Junior high was already going to be rough, but that bitch threw fuel on the flame. A-hem. Anyway, I'm talking about those pointless and mesmerizing ambitions, and holy granola does My Custom Van bring these closeted ideas to life in the most amusing way possible. It is the personification of all the things we're thinking and don't have the balls to say. Well, all the things that men are thinking, I'm not sure how many woman go around fantasizing about customizing a van into a rolling sex machine. Again, I digress. My Custom Van is performed in a series of monologues, and each actor embodies one of those useless goals, and talks about it with such honest enthusiasm and gusto you laugh so hard you cry a little.
For me, comedy is all about the writing. If the writing isn't solid, then no matter how good the actors are, it's just not going to be funny. Lucky for me, My Custom Van was penned by Micheal Ian Black, a regular on VH1 and Comedy Central. This guy's business is funny, and this production based on his book of essays, "My Custom Van… 50 Mind Blowing Essays that Will Blow Mind All Over Your Face" is no exception. Lucky for Black, the cast of eight (seven men and one female) is superb.
This show is definitely a best bet for me, because for the theatergoer it's a guaranteed good time. Black has already made a career in being funny, so you can count on this being a hit and laughing your face off. If you've watched "I love the 90s" and relatively enjoyed it, you'll love this. It's rare see on an off-off-Broadway production that is almost guaranteed to be successful, so props to Project: Theater for getting My Custom Van on it's feet.
With all of that said, I do think there's room for improvement. Some of the monologues could have definitely used some trimming. With high energy comedies, and any show that uses a series of monologues to collectively express a concept not a story line, you have to avoid dead spots like the plague. If the audience gets bored fast, it's hard to wake them up again. This is something My Custom Van could have done better, but then again, maybe some of the actors were having an off night. I also think it could have been a bit shorter. 95 minutes is short, but I wish it kept me wanting more, opposed to me feeling more like, "Ok, ok, I get it," by the end of the show.
My Custom Van's humor is not politically relevant, witty, or even all that smart. It's Bro Humor. It's about how many sexual innuendos you can fit into one sentence. It's unbridled enthusiasm for the simple things, like taco parties. It's dorky and racy at the same time, making you cringe through the giggles. Above all, it's freaking hysterical.
(My Custom Van plays at The Drilling Company Theater, 236 West 78th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam. Remaining performances are April 15th, 16th, 17th, 19th, 22nd, 23rd and 24th at 8pm, and also April 24th at 3pm. Tickets are $18 and are available at www.projecttheater.org or www.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 917-575-5922. They also do a Pay-What-You-Can at the door on Monday nights, which I think is totally awesome.)