Loop Review: Status Update
David Lee Nelson's confessional solo should come with a giant "Like" button. With video trailer.
by Mark Lowry
published Saturday, March 5, 2011
Plenty of writers and performers have mined rich material from their own failures. And as uncomfortable as it might be, we love to witness the results. Helps us feel not quite so insecure about ours. Especially if it's entertaining.
So if you get a friend request from David Lee Nelson, accept it. The New York-based comedian and playwright chronicles his journey to sobriety, a falling-apart marriage and his career as a starving artist in Status Update, in what will surely be a highlight of this year's Out of the Loop Fringe Festival.
But it's not the typical here's-how-I-effed-it-up narrative. Directed by Adam Knight, Nelson performs most of it as a stand-up comedy routine, and occasionally breaks to show a bit of personal documentary video in which he talks about his life with his wife, the divorce, vacations and, to jump the whole thing off, a very disturbing gift he received from his mother.
The stand-up starts off simple enough, with humorous life observations. It's a bit awkward as the audience wonders if this is, indeed, more of a comedy-club act than a theatrical performance. But the video interludes provide important back story, and slowly the stand-up performer grows increasingly caustic with his material.
The big climactic comedy section, which is where the show's title comes in, is the bit about the most painful act of any break-up these days: the relationship status on Facebook. Once you hit that button and become single, it's public, and you have to admit it to yourself. And if, for whatever reason, you're still Facebook friends with the ex, you get to stalk watch all the new fun he or she is having in his or her new phase of life.
Bitter, party of one.
It's at times uncomfortable and occasionally heartbreaking, but frequently funny. Laughter is the key. That's how Nelson keeps us from approaching him after the show, pulling out a few bills and offering them up with a sweet "you need this more than I do."
What's genius about Nelson's setup is that it's confessional because the age of social networking demands that it be. We've all said stuff on Facebook that we probably shouldn't have (ahem), or we've made decisions—joined a fan page, liked an '80s rom-com movie or friended certain folks—that will be questioned or even mocked by others.
Don't worry. No one's judging.
Yeah, Nelson knows that's not true. And in Status Update, no one's a bigger judge than numero uno. It's like poking yourself on Facebook, if that were possible.
To sum it up, he says "I'm a 32-year-old sober, stand-up comedian. That is the saddest thing I can think of."
And when he has our sympathy for a brief second, he goes right back into making us laugh.
To use Facebook terminology: LIKE.
◊ Click the calendar link above to see future performances for Status Update, which plays in the Addison Theatre Centre's Stone Cottage. View a full Out of the Loop Fringe Festival schedule here.
Here's a trailer for Status Update.