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The Point, 1013 7th St. NW
Remaining Shows: July 13, 6 p.m. July 15, 7 p.m. July 17, 4:30 p.m. July 18, 5:30 p.m.
They say: “An underground bunker. The near future. Step into the shoes of a killer robot about to slaughter the world’s last living actor. Which is me. An evening of low budgets, high camp, major dork appeal, and weird homemade electronics.”
Sophia’s Take: Equal parts stand- up comedy, sketch comedy and performance art, Ben Egerman‘s one-man show provides all the sci- fi kitch and major dork appeal that he said it would.
The premise is simple: Egerman is the last man on Earth, and he must stave off his own inevitable death, at the hands of the killer robots — meaning, the audience — that surround him for as long as he can. We the crowd could be any type of dangerous creature, though— sexy vampires, maybe howling werewolves. The point is to create a structure that allows for Egerman’s series of related, and some not-so-related, sketches. His descriptions of humanity as it suffers its ridiculous demise, complete with funny home- made cardboard props, are witty and timely, even if, as a whole, the show occasionally feels a bit piecemeal.
In fact, just as it seemed Egerman had hindered himself with all these cumbersome card- board props, he presented the “downer” segment and justified all of them as metaphors. Said downer segment is a poetic riff on feelings of alienation and humanity’s slow march towards destruction. It is a downer, maybe, but it is also quite moving. This is a young performer interested in asking large questions, such as, Are we making the most of the limited time life has to offer us?
I wonder how Egerman’s writing would be served by letting one sequence of thought flow seamlessly into another; a little less sketch, a little more in the vein of stand-up. Or by allowing his pain to blend with and inform his priceless sense of farce.
Now, I hate to bring up how hot it was in the theater. (It’s Fringe in D.C. in July—we know!) I only bring it up because comedy is about timing. And because I am willing to take a leap of faith and differentiate between the show I actually saw and the performance I think Egerman is capable of giving. The bad news is that at many points during the performance the lightning quick shifts of beat and character, which are the foundation of this type of humor, were not on the stage. The good news is that I saw them before the lights and the climate in the room began to take their toll. The even better news is that Do Not Kill Me does deliver far more laughs than one usually gets from a visit to a cool, comfy multiplex cinema.
Egerman is observant, self- deprecating, and both frightened for and disappointed in humanity. Add these things to a heart tuned to understanding the complexities of loneliness, pathetic longing, and hatred, and you get one hell of a funny man.
I say see the show, remember Ben Egerman’s name, and keep your eyes and ears peeled for where he may be in five to ten years.
See it: If deep down you are a Star Trek, Patton Oswalt, magically-realistic literature-loving geek.
Skip it: If you sincerely appreciate Michael Bay’s contribution to the arts.