Theatre Is Easy: “Celebrity Autobiography: In Their Own Words”
BOTTOM LINE: There is nothing more ridiculous than reading a celebrity memoir. There is nothing more entertaining than having Rachel Dratch read it to you.
Long live the comedians of the world. And long live the people who provide fantastic fodder for their jokes. Celebrity Autobiography: In Their Own Words is a hilarious 75-minute show, a sort of Barnes and Noble book reading-meets-stand-up comedy show at the Triad NYC theater on the Upper West Side. It’s a great cabaret space in an intimate setting, complete with full bar and cocktail service. And this is definitely the kind of show that can be enjoyed with a drink in one’s hand.
The premise of Celebrity Autobiography is so incredibly obvious, I wonder why no one thought of it before: a handful of well-known actors from stage and screen read excerpts from the silliest of celeb tell-alls. Writer-comedian Eugene Pack created the show one night when he brought some friends together to read memoirs in front of an audience. It was well received, eventually becoming a weekly performance produced and hosted by Pack and Dayle Reyfel.
With shows in both Los Angeles and New York, the Celebrity Autobiography company of performers includes screen actors like Rachel Dratch, Molly Shannon, Matthew Perry, Justin Long, Paul Rudd, Bobby Cannavale (Third Watch, Cupid), and Michael Urie (Ugly Betty), as well as big-name Broadway stars like Matthew Broderick, Andrea Martin, Alan Cumming, Jackie Hoffman (Hairspray, Xanadu), Donna Murphy (The King and I), and Christopher Sieber (Shrek: The Musical).
The night I saw it, the lineup included Dratch, Urie, Hoffman, 30 Rock‘s Scott Adsit, Third Rock‘s Kristen Johnston, Karen Ziemba (a 2000 Tony winner for Contact), Craig Bierko, and former Saturday Night Live writer Alan Zweibel. They read from the autobiographies of Miley Cyrus, Hedy Lamarr, Burt Reynolds and Lonnie Anderson and Burt’s ex-personal assistant, the Jonas Brothers, Joan Lunden, Tommy Lee, and more. These books are comic gold, and the performers simply read passages from them, with the voice and intonation they think the authors would use to read their own words (or, let’s be honest, their ghostwriters’ own words). The humor is both in the prose and the performers’ unavoidable reaction to the prose.
Suffice to say, Celebrity Autobiography is a fabulously entertaining night out. The show plays one Monday per month; visit celebrityautobiography.com for the full schedule. The next show is October 12 at 7:30 PM, and the cast will include Adsit, Bierko, Dratch, Johnston, Pack, Reyfel, Zweibel, Carol Kane, Steve Schirripa (The Sopranos), Claudia Shear (Dirty Blonde), and Sherri Shepherd from The View. Check it out if you can — I’m pretty sure anyone with a sense of humor will have a great time.
Celebrity Autobiography: In Their Own Words plays at the Triad NYC theater, 158 W. 72nd St., in Manhattan. Upcoming performances are Mondays at 7:30 PM on the following dates: October 12, November 23, and December 7. Tickets are $35-$45 and there’s a two-drink minimum (the Triad is a cash-only venue). For tickets visit smarttix.com or call 212-868-4444, and for more show information visit celebrityautobiography.com.