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What they say: “Remember Mikey, who hated everything? Imagine him grown-up, unemployed, addicted to Ambien and Match.com. He reads chirpy travel books promising love and romance abroad. He books a world trip: exotic locales, Pepto-Bismol, a body-spa called The Curious Finger.”
Caroline’s take: As a single lady who’s spent plenty of time discussing Eat, Pray, Love with her friends, I entered Gearbox curious to hear what single dudes do when they travel around the world after a period of personal crisis. As it turns out, maybe I was better off not finding out.
The show’s early scenes aren’t particularly disarming: After losing his job, performer Randy Ross decides to spend his severance on a four-month trip around the world. He’ll start in Greece, then visit South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia before returning to Boston. He’s hoping to come back with a job prospect, a woman (note that he doesn’t say girlfriend or wife), or at least some new fodder for his Match.com profile. But Randy’s not like most twenty-somethings who travel for months with packs strapped on their backs; he’s in his 40s and has a semiserious Vicodin and Ambien dependency.
So off he goes to Greece, where he drinks whiskey on the deck of a boat with a Russian bombshell who quickly rebuffs his advances. In Capetown, he meets a young hairdresser whom he fears will rob him, so he sends her away with $4o and wonders aloud if he’s single because he’s too hesitant with women. When he gets to Bangkok, after making the obvious and unfunny joke about that city’s name, he heads to the seedy sex district in search of adventure. He ends up getting lost and asking a “lady boy” how to get back to his hotel. Maybe, Randy thinks, he should go for it with the lady boy just to say he did. Things don’t get better for Randy or the audience when he gets to Cambodia: in Phnom Penh, he treats us to a graphic description of a hand job he receives from a prostitute. He doesn’t go all the way because he’s a) too cheap and b) afraid that paying for sex will affect his karma later in life.
His karma should concern him: It’s clear from the stories he shares about past relationships that he hasn’t been so nice to ladies he’s dated. A description of the “irritating” way one girlfriend threw a football and a story about an awkward role-play session in a hotel room don’t sit well with audience members, who laugh uncomfortably throughout these sagas.
Perhaps the journey would be more engaging if the presentation had a bit more pep. He speaks as if he’s narrating an audiobook, more focused on telling the story than showing it. Each description is paired with an obvious stock gesture: When he mentions hair, he touches his head; when he mentions paying for something, he takes out an imaginary wallet.
On the upside, it’s never unclear why Ross is chronically single. That message comes through crystal clearly.
See it if: You like crass humor about blowjobs and stories where women are always the villains.
Skip it if: You’re looking for an even-handed treatment of gender roles.