“After 29 years, I’m the most comfortable stand-up comedian in the business,” Jeff Garlin confesses between belches. A self-deprecating Garlin admits maybe he should have strived to be the best comic instead. Steppenwolf Theatre presents Jeff Garlin in NO SUGAR TONIGHT. Garlan shuffles on stage in jeans and a t-shirt. He almost seems shy grabbing the microphone and looking at the floorboard. Garlin is the farthest from pretentious as you can get! Garlin manages the evening’s expectations with the statements: “There is no act. No show. I just ramble... and I might have even just peaked.” He’s hysterical! Sipping water from a ladle in a plastic pumpkin, Garlin periodically checks a one page cheat sheet. He starts a story then sidetracks to another. His ongoing transitions are a lot of “I want to tell you about this cookie before I tell you that other thing and then I’ll get to the story about my wife.” It’s casual. It’s personal. It’s funny! Instead of being onstage, Garlin could easily be sitting next to me on the red line telling me about his day. Even after an hour and half ride with Jeff Garlin, I’m ready for more! I would ride to the Howard Station with Garlin and that’s 12 stops further than I need to go.
Read on AND LISTEN to Audio Podcast at ITUNES Chicago Theatre Reviews for Week of July 15th Facilitated by Joshua Volkers with Katy Walsh.
At the beginning, Garlin announces the show’s title means nothing. Steppenwolf pushed for a title and Garlin produced that one. He has been off sugar for 2 ½ years. Due to medical issues, he has embraced a healthier lifestyle. A lot of his shtick is weighted down with food. Doughnuts, cookies, Hawaiian pizza, triple-thick shakes… they are amusing tales of temptation and denial. As a good size gal, I don’t like to laugh at the misfortune of the overweight. I don’t want to perpetuate the myth that we are all Krispy Kreme addicts. Garlin makes it tough for me not to swallow my pride. He mimics Jerry Seinfeld’s menu order with hilarious accuracy. He adds in a Larry David impression and the food tale smacks the funny bone.
Part of what I love about Garlin is his unflappable storytelling enjoyment. He loves entertaining so much that puke can’t stop him! Having a bad reaction to new diabetes medication, he is coming off a night of vomiting. He’s chugging Gatorade. The audience calls him out on the sugar drink and he counters with “I don’t give a shit.” He invites people to visit his Wikipedia page and re-write his biography. It’s his ongoing un-Hollywood mantra “I don’t give a shit” that endears him as the real Jeff Garlin. Born IN Chicago (Sun-Times likes to birth him in Morton Grove or Mount Prospect), Garlin is entertaining his hometown for a limited two week engagement. Curb your hesitation, get a ticket!
A hilarious man I do ride the red line with, James describes it with “sweet saccharin standup.”
Running Time: Eighty-five minutes with no intermission and a ten minute delayed start
At Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted
Wednesdays -Sundays at 7:30pm
Thru July 24th