Review: “Randy Writes A Novel” at Theatre Row

Anthony J. Piccione

  • New York Theatre Critic

It’s Friday night, and as I am most days, I am spending my night at the theater. This time, rather than a show that involved the usual dialogue of sorts between humans, I was off to see a PUPPET SHOW! I have to say, although I knew from the beginning that tonight’s show I’d be reviewing would be a bit different, it turned out to be more different – and more hysterical – than I’d honestly been expecting from Randy Writes a Novel.

Right from the beginning, the arrival of Randy the Purple Puppet is followed by the announcement that it would be a very untraditional theatrical performance, in that we were allowed to talk, make noise, and even (*cue gasps from some theatergoers reading this*) having our phones out during the show. What follows is Randy talking with the audience about the novel he’s written, and how he’s about to read it to see if it’s any good, and gets some feedback. However, he constantly puts it off by calling on audience members and interacting with others as they react to his performance, and over the course of roughly 90 minutes or so, he goes from one topic to another, discussing everything from Ernest Hemingway and the question of whether being a better human being and a great artist are compatible to bizarre stories such as how he picked up a bookshelf from a guy he met on Craigslist…and many other things in between.

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Throughout it all, he discusses, thinks, and engages in a way that is both laugh-out-loud funny, while still appealing to the intelligent theatergoer, at the same time. It’s not every day I come across a comedy show that does at excellent a job at striking that balance as this show does, but when I do, it’s quite rare. That’s not to say that there isn’t some raunchy humor in here, so perhaps if you’re 100% opposed to that sort of thing, maybe this isn’t your cup of tea. However, as far as I’m concerned, I couldn’t stop laughing and keeping my eyes on this small, purple puppet, and it seems the rest of the audience couldn’t, either.

I admit that I had never had the pleasure of watching Randy’s comedy special on Netflix while it was featured on there, and the second I got home from the performance, I found myself wishing it was still on Netflix for me to watch, as I couldn’t get enough from the show itself! It’s an absolutely hilarious comedy show, and is worthy of all the praise it’s received in the years leading up to this Off-Broadway production. It’s one of the funniest events I’ve attended over the past year or so, and strongly encourage you to attend, interact, and be prepared to laugh!

 “Randy Writes A Novel” runs at Theatre Row from April 18th to June 10th. For more information, please visit www.telecharge.com.

UPDATE (5/7/18): Since the publication of this review, it has been brought to my attention that the Netflix special mentioned in the last paragraph was only available in Australia, and has not yet been made available in the U.S. (Hopefully, that will change, at some point!)