Oscar viewers will be relieved to know that Billy Crystal’s lucrative new solo show, a nostalgiathon set in the star’s Long Island childhood home, is better than his recent award-hosting stints. A silent reenactment of an expletive-laden home movie, anecdotes about his penis, trusty imitations of wacky relatives—all are calculated to make Crystal fans swoon. There are some remarkable revelations, too, notably footage of Crystal hanging out with jazz greats from his father’s record label, Commodore, which recorded “Strange Fruit.” Who knew that young Billy enjoyed his first film—Shane—on the lap of Lady Day? But in the second act, a macho-sappy pseudo-philosophical aesthetic (think Mitch Albom) takes over: Crystal knocks on the door of heaven to yell at God for killing his father; he talks at length about “the otherness” that follows a tragedy; he refers to almost all of his family members as “heroes.” With its treacly treatment of hardship paired with hyperromantic descriptions of new cars and playing catch with Dad, this is less showbiz memoir than worshipful depiction of the great suburban dream.
By Billy Crystal
At the Broadhurst Theatre