Relationships seem to be the bottomless well that comedians keep coming back to. The reason for this is revealed at the beginning of The Banana Manologues when Gus Weiderman (John Brennan) asks the audience to tell him, by a show of applause, how many people have ever been in a relationship. Um, everybody. Then, he asks how many have been in a shitty relationship. Once again, everybody. The point, and the reason why relationships and sex are endless comedic fodder, is that we’ve all been there, and we can all laugh about the times we were there. And really, that’s what this show is all about, nailing those moments that we’ve all experienced, no matter how many or how few relationships, sex-partners, or break-ups we might’ve had.
The two-person, hour-long performance stars Brennan and Camille Lowman, who both have serious improv chops. Lowman is part of the all-female improv group Mary Kay Has a Posse, and Brennan is currently performing the Fringe show Big Dicktionary with Timmy Finch. Both Brennan and Lowman are Theatre 99 vets who recently located to the Big Apple, where they’ve also been known to mix it up with the Upright Citizens Brigade.
Brennan’s first version of the show — better known to Chucktown audiences as The Banana Monologues (note the subtle difference) — was a one-person show. While the plot’s the same — story centers on Weiderman’s relationship with the lovely Alexis and all the miscommunication and mishaps that occur during their four years together — Alexis (Lowman) makes an appearance this time. There are also frequent cameos from Sgt. Johnson (Weiderman’s penis) and Darcy (Alexis’ “best guy-friend”).
Sex forms the subject for much of the comedy, and Sgt. Johnson never lets the audience’s or Weiderman’s thoughts stray too far from it. It manages to maintain the right level of raunchiness throughout, and, fortunately, it doesn’t ever feel like Lowman or Brennan are resort to sex jokes just to keep the cheap laughs coming. It’s a solid script, and their improv experience definitely comes through, as their comedic timing was spot on. My only real complaint was that the ending felt a little sudden and rushed, and I thought the show actually could have afforded to be a little longer (something I’m told is in the works).
Bottom line: The Banana Manologues is funny, and the music and sound effects (done by Tim Hoeckel) add a lot. It’s also pretty fast-paced, and if you come with your significant other, I can guarantee at least one moment where you’ll just look at each other and laugh when Brennan and Lowman hit a situation spot-on that’s come up in your own love life. If you come alone or with friends, you’ll probably connect even better, and maybe you can even commiserate with Weiderman after the show.