Review: “I’m Choking (and other excuses to leave a party)” at The Tank


Anthony Piccione

  • New York Theatre Critic

It’s a very familiar feeling, which I’m sure we’ve all had before: Whether it was a party, a wedding, a meeting, etc., we’ve all been to events before where we felt compelled to go to, but were desperate to find a way out of. Whatever the reason may be, from anxiety to awkwardness to simple boredom, we’ve all been there before. That much is clear, given the overwhelming reaction last week to I’m Choking (and other excuses to leave a party) by Josh Johnson, one of many outings recently presented at The Tank’s Speak Up, Rose Up storytelling festival.

A writer for The Daily Show and a former writer for The Tonight Show, Mr. Johnson is certainly no stranger to the world of stand-up comedy and writing lines that will leave audiences laughing out loud, and with this show, he shows that he’s not too bad as the person telling the jokes he’s written. In this one-person show, divided into various segments that feature a different color of lighting for each one, he takes us through various events in his past, all revolving around the theme of being stuck somewhere you don’t want to be at, anymore.

Whatever past situations Johnson may have been in that he wanted to get out of, this performance was clearly not one of them, as he relished the joy and energy of the packed crowd at The Tank, and the audience clearly enjoyed being there just as much. It’s not hard to see why. Whether it’s a kid’s birthday party or a high school reunion, Johnson tells each story with vivid detail, good-natured humor, and a captivating charisma that was apparent from the start of the show. By the time the show reached its end, I was somewhat surprised, as by that point, I was anticipating what his next tale would be, as the show seemed to get more entertaining, over the course of its hour long runtime.

While this particular event ran for just one night, there will be another chance for all our readers to see his work: This fall, he apparently has a new Netflix special expected to be released, so feel free to check it out, when the time comes, and see what you think of his act. If you’re a fan of comedy that is both thoughtful and relatable, I’m sure it will be a performance that you’re likely to enjoy and appreciate.

“I’m Choking (and other excuses to leave a party)” ran for one night only at The Tank as part of the Speak Up, Rise Up festival on August 10th. For more information, please visit