The women laughed harder than the men.
But both genders obviously enjoyed Robert Dubac’s multicharacter monologue, The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron? which opened a six-performance run at McDavid Studio on Wednesday.
Dubac’s comical commentary about the differences between the sexes provides a general overview of the dilemma through the specific trials of Bobby, who tells us that he has been dumped (at least for the time being) by his fiancee, Julie.
When the couple parted, however, Julie promised to call in two weeks. While he is waiting for the phone to ring, Bobby referees the battles of the sexes with the help of five other characters who are, in their own ways, as clueless about women as he is. And through it all, Bobby desperately tries to remember the name of his ex’s cat — a detail he considers key to his hopes for reconciliation.
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The diverse advisory committee Bobby turns to comprises The Colonel, a crusty soldier who approaches romance like a military campaign where no prisoners are taken; the suave and debonair Jean-Michel, a philosophy student who is certain that no woman can resist the French language; Fast Eddie, an unrepentant love ’em and leave ’em type sporting cool shades and a cooler demeanor; Old Mr. Linger, the kindest and gentlest of Dubac’s male stereotypes who, despite being well into his 100s, has learned little that is of any real use to Bobby; and the brainless Ronnie Cabrezzi, who, surprisingly, might just have his heart in the right place.
While slugging a beer and hopping from persona to persona, Dubac alternates between stage left (reason, where men waste most of their time) and stage right (emotion, where women are usually more at home). There are a few digs at the fair sex but, much more often, guys take a beating. He notes, for example, that males’ concept of multitasking is being able to read while on the toilet.
The structure of Dubac’s 90-minute show, which he has been performing for more than a decade, is a hybrid of two forms. It is primarily a narrowly focused standup routine. But, he is also constantly morphing into his different characters, makes excellent use of the props on his cluttered stage (especially an old-fashioned blackboard), uses music and lighting effectively and throws in some hilarious visual humor that adds an element of theater to the proceedings.
The performance, which is the first here by Dubac, also includes an encore in the form of a bit from his more recent creation, The Book of Moron, which offers insights on topics such as politics and religion.
The greatest strength of this Performing Arts Fort Worth presentation is Dubac’s well-honed delivery and his ability to deviate from the script based on audience reaction and behavior. At the Wednesday night performance seen for this review, for example, many members of the audience didn’t turn off their cellphones. When the situation reached a crisis point of annoyance, Dubac confiscated one of the offending phones and tried to return the interrupting call.
The weakness of Dubac’s show is that it is built on cliches, stereotypes and cultural artifacts that have now become a bit dated. In the early going, for instance, he cites a number of self-help books, such as I’m OK, You’re OK, that are just slightly more current than the Rosetta Stone.
But Dubac’s combination of testosterone-fueled ranting and brokenhearted emotional begging hits its mark on a regular basis in this fast-moving presentation. And just a note to guys who want to take a date or wife to this show: wear a flak jacket. Those elbows in the ribs get tiring after awhile.