Jeff Garlin, Soho Theatre, London
Tasty snacks that don't quite satisfy
Tuesday 28 June 2011
He is famous for the on-location, part-improvised, sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm. So there was a nice irony to watching the burly frame of Jeff Garlin read from notes while on a stage set that could have easily belonged to a studio sitcom.
The set belonged to the play Realism, on before Garlin's debut UK stand-up show and, along with some of the members of the audience, it was a distraction from his warm vignettes about a previous life as a compulsive over-eater.
"I have no act," he says before picking out another gentle yarn, among the diversions, including one about eating way too many doughnuts during the filming of Robocop 3 ("the good one"). To say how many doughnuts, exactly, might ruin the effect of the story and this is indicative of the slight nature of these tales; charming though they were they often lacked bite.
In itself the underlying theme, willpower versus fast food, could make a nice show ("Downsize me" perhaps) if it was taken out of a stand-up context and used as the basis of a tighter, more rehearsed, one-man-show format.
Nevertheless, Garlin was able to demonstrate a lightness of touch that contrasted with his frame and also show off some quotable quips, for example "being married is wonderful but it sucks" and "being a compulsive over-eater is not like other addictions like pot or alcohol, it's not going to get you laid."
To the delight of Curb fans, Garlin was able to name the fast-food meals he'd had during the filming of various episodes, the names of which were shouted out at random by the capacity audience. He further pleased them by taking questions about the show and some miscellaneous queries, during which he mentioned that Ricky Gervais, appearing in the next season of Curb, was "a little full of himself".
Tonight was all about being full, of course, and even if this genuine and engaging comic couldn't quite deliver the whole package he did at least tickle the palate.
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