The Worst of Eric Bogosian | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Worst of Eric Bogosian

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A fixture on the solo performance scene since the late 70s, Eric Bogosian specializes in dark, disturbing harangues by characters from a broad spectrum of society: grungy street people and slick suburban schmucks, self-absorbed artists and acquisitive culture vultures. He brings to the stage a rock singer's physicality as well as an actor's knack for switching roles--and middle age hasn't slowed him down, he says: "I still like to jump around, I'm in good shape. I have better wind than I ever had." He cites among his role models Lenny Bruce, Frank Zappa, Richard Pryor, and Brother Theodore, a New York cult figure who offered late-night rants into his 90s. Certainly Bruce's influence is evident in Bogosian's abrasive charm. A playwright and novelist as well as an actor, he's making his first solo appearance here since his suburban satire Griller got grilled by critics when it premiered in 1998 at the Goodman. Offering a selection of sketches from past works (ignore the tongue-in-cheek title) including Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll and his recent Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, Bogosian is one of two Saturday-night headliners at the Chicago Comedy Festival, a fact that gives him pause: "I've avoided comedy festivals over the years. If people think I'm just gonna make them laugh, well, I don't know." So why did he take the gig? "I wanted to come to Chicago again," says the Boston-born University of Chicago dropout. "Chicago is a fickle city. I gotta take it when it comes to me." Vic Theater, 3145 N. Sheffield, Chicago, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212. Saturday, June 2, 10 PM. $25.

--Albert Williams

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