These prolonged syllables echoed from the stage at the show's start, alluding to a night of prolonged laughter that was soon to follow. Delivering comedic chaos, John Mulaney and Nick Kroll performed their show, Oh, Hello live at Wilbur Theater earlier this month.
An Inception-esque play within a play, Oh, Hello features a two-man stand-up that is quite frankly, utterly ridiculous–but in the best way possible. Gloriously odd, the production of unique proportions brought its willing audience on a hilarious Off-Broadway experience.
In the show, comedians Mulaney and Kroll assume some unlikely alter egos. These include George St. Geegland (Mulaney), an unpublished novelist, and Gil Faizon (Kroll), a struggling actor whose claim to fame rests on nearly becoming the voice of CBS. Replete with silver wigs and wrinkles galore, the two old, crotchety Upper West Side men depict painful stereotypical archetypes. Therein lies true comedic brilliance.
For those unfamiliar with the masterminds behind Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, learning a little background might help paint the bigger picture. Mulaney is best known for his six-season stint as a writer on Saturday Night Live. His stand-up comedy career has produced treasures like New in Town and Comeback Kid, both of which are available on Netflix. Kroll may seem familiar from his role as “The Douche” on Parks and Recreation, but he has also starred on FXX’s The League and frequently tours the country performing stand-up.
The characters in Oh, Hello were adapted from a sketch that was repeatedly featured on Comedy Central’s Kroll Show. In the social satire, Geegland and Faizon ran a public access prank show about giving contestants sandwiches piled high with “too much tuna!”
The live show, then, is mainly centered around the antics of two men whose lives are turned upside down when their rent inexplicably jumps from $75 to $4,000 per month. This sudden twist prompts a moral dilemma for the characters: Should they remain independent? Or, should they sell out to television cronies who want to produce their beloved prank show “Too Much Tuna”? What ensues is an extension of purposefully obvious jokes, terribly wonderful puns, and all manners of imitations and overwrought theater tropes.
In transferring the sketch to stage, Mulaney and Kroll succumbed to the characters and embraced their over-the-top, cantankerous personas. As the show progressed, the duo’s antics only increased in hilarity and the audience became more familiar with their many strange idiosyncrasies (i.e. an obsession with Steely Dan, a distinctive code of mispronunciation, and a certain proclivity for vast amounts of a certain seafood).
Although some of the references made went over my head, the majority of the two hours spent in the Wilbur Theater had me gasping for breath and clutching my stomach. Overall, the deceptively whip-smart, uproariously ridiculous one-of-a-kind play induced truly irrepressible laughter.
Coauthored by: Claudia Lasalle