That Jeff Garlin Thing | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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That Jeff Garlin Thing

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Jeff Garlin's going Hollywood: a whore by his own proud admission, he's leaving Chicago to star in a "dumb," "stupid," and "bad" (by his own admission as well) TV sitcom. The plan, as he lays it out, is to get famous and make lots of money so he can come back and make filmic rhapsodies to his hometown. ("I want to be to Chicago what Woody Allen is to New York.") His last hurrah is this enjoyable stand-up gig at Annoyance. He's doing the show for love, not money--the cover goes to the theater's expenses. And on the one hand, Garlin's giving just what he's getting: there's no routine, little in the way of prepared jokes (though riffs that work one night will turn up another), and no one can accuse him of dolling up for the shows. On the other, he has a nice intelligence, a fine eye, and--not least--a sense of decency. Plus he's funny. He challenges the audience (to a proudly heterosexual man: "Would you give a guy a blow job if it would create a cure for cancer?"), puts his money where his, er, mouth is in return ("I would. In a minute. It'd be the best blow job he ever got, too"), and goes far enough out on limbs to occasionally find himself embarrassed. (During the question-and-answer period, get him talking about his fiancee.) Too ragged to be brilliant, too engaging to be overlooked, it's just an hour of inspired fucking around by a guy smart enough to suspect that he's walking into the jaws of hell and might not ever come back. Annoyance Theatre, 3747 N. Clark, 929-6200. Through July 3: Fridays-Sundays, 8 PM. $6.

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