To tell the truth, I’m a little bit scared of Dr. Professor Neal
Portenza. This isn’t as strange as you might think, because his show is not ‘a
quiet night of stand-up’, as he tells us (yells at us) at the start, but an
‘interactive experience.’ There is an edge of danger in the room and so I am
sitting at the back of the audience, attempting to hide my notepad, worried
that I’m going to get accosted for taking notes, be recognised as a reviewer
and unceremoniously thrown outside. This feeling that ‘anything could happen’
Not for the faint-hearted, or for anyone who wants to hide in the corner, the show is insane, terrifying fun.
There is a ‘structure’ to the show, which Dr. Neal has helpfully written up on a whiteboard at the back of the stage. He jumps from half-hearted ‘rhythmic gymnastics’ to terrible re-enactments of Mission Impossible, to drawing portraits of the audience, with little connecting material or explanation and many random segues.
At the end of each section, the audience is encouraged to give Dr. Neal a mark out of ten. He stalks up and down the aisle, looking for opportunities to abuse his technician or to find audience members to mock. Relying heavily on the willingness of the audience to go along with and participate in the madness, it could fall over with particularly cold or timid groups of people. Luckily, Dr. Neal seems to attract the type of people he needs and my particular show was blessed by one particular audience member not only able to keep apace with Dr. Neal’s improvisation skills, but able to mimic and match his zany comedic style. Dr. Neal ended up awarding this participant an ‘infinity’ out of ten for his improvised section.
Not for the faint-hearted, or for anyone who wants to hide in the corner, Dr. Professor Neal Portenza Performs His Own Autopsy Live Onstage. One Night Only. (Obviously) is insane, terrifying fun if you’re willing to go along for the ride. I’m giving the Dr. four stars because he told us that if any reviewers were in the audience and gave him three stars, he would hunt us down and I kind of believe him. And I’m also still kind of scared of him. But I’m also giving him four stars because it was a rollicking good night out of unexpectedly surreal and wonderfully bizarre comedy.