Chris Gethard walks onto the stage of the Lynn Redgrave Theater with no fancy introduction. I guess because it's a one man show about the actual 'one man'. He comes out from behind a curtain, into a room full of people who are objectively strangers. I say objectively because Gethard has intentionally and unintentionally branded himself as someone who can strike up a meaningful conversation with anyone. He can connect with complete strangers, with people with whom he has little in common, and do so almost effortlessly. And that, in turn, makes him someone you want to listen to.
Gethard asks the audience if they decided to buy tickets to Career Suicide only because it was inside a warm and dry theater, a contrast to the cold and rainy night. Someone in the front row says yes, and he laughs in the way that you picture him laughing when he's on the phone with a caller for his podcast Beautiful Anonymous. He's just been told that the person on the other end of the line is an artist who creates miniature houses for ghosts that she has come in contact with. Kind of a bizarre thing to bring up, but he expects it. He knows he's weird too.
It takes a certain kind of person to not expect nor want the automatic response of telling a theater full of people about the first time he or she contemplated suicide to be a sympathetic sigh, or universal discomfort. And Chris Gethard is that person. Because the story, his story, goes on. Like after he drove into the front yard of a random home Clifton, NJ he was saved by people who arguably could've been real life Sopranos characters.
There will be stories told with different cadence in each performance of Career Suicide. Maybe if you'e also are from New Jersey, Gethard will turn to you when he references Passaic, NJ seeking a validation nod about how shitty Passaic is. Or if you're a therapist who shares the same name with Gethard's therapist, you'll have a chance to talk to him after the show. What will always happen, however, are periodical acapella versions of Morrissey songs. It's fucking poignant, ok?
A word that I can't seem to get out of my head when thinking about the experience of Career Suicide is comfort. It's almost a complete contrast from the experience of watching an improv show; which is coincidentally how Gethard got into performing. It's different because you can't quite relax while watching improv; and you shouldn't. It's spontaneous and all the more amazing because of it. But comedy, of course, doesn't limit itself to a group of people on stage acting like a group of Russian spies who all work at iHop. And what makes Chris Gethard such a pleasure to watch and listen to is that he is able to appeal to these different dimensions of comedy.
* Sometimes I'm lazy and don't finish writing a post until three weeks after I've started it.