December 10, 1999:
All Things Delicious: What the hell is inside the sizzle pot?
through Dec 11
Running time: 1 hr, 15 min
We meet the very sideburned Brently Heilbron in a musical number. He emerges doing a swirling dance worthy of The Sound of Music and singing a song whose subject matter covers, among other things, a certain sizzle pot, masturbation, and cartoons. Then he reads to us from a morbid children's book called The Happy Egg, and the donkey sound indicating it's time to turn the page torments Heilbron through the rest of the performance.
Between donkey-induced freakouts, Heilbron, among other things, carries on a meaningful discussion with his wife, who happens to be a Mrs. Potato Head, yells at a pencil about expectations, babbles in maniacal German, and gives a rousing campaign speech as a nine-year-old boy from Chiapas named "Cripilito." In all of this, Heilbron is charming and irreverent -- his eyes perpetually bug out of his head; his frequent screams rattle windows.
The only real problem is there's a tad too much screaming and eye-bugging going on. It works at first, but gets exhausting toward the end. There is no steady ascent to hysteria, because the high note is sustained throughout. Heilbron doesn't make us wait for him to go completely insane, which is the comedic equivalent of putting out on the first date.
Heilbron's alternately childlike and hysterical solo show, as directed by Anna Krejci, invites comparison with the recently resurrected legacy of Andy Kaufman. As the recent Man on the Moon hype has attested, Kaufman was both lunatic and genius. Heilbron is really funny and talented, but seems at times slightly too, well, well-adjusted. This is reassuring on one level (like, it's okay to sit in the front row), but it means an edge is lacking. The frequent freakouts don't have as much power, not only because they're so plentiful but also because they're so obviously all in good fun.