Fringe review: ‘Any Title That Works’

Any Title That Works, Paul Strickland, Kentucky. Patrons’ Room, 60 minutes, $10. (Note: The show is billed as 60 minutes but actually runs about 50 minutes.)

By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater

Paul Strickland

Paul Strickland has at least two gifts — a talent for saying very funny things and also a knack for looking at himself and others and learning from what he sees. Those two gifts are sometimes at odds in Any Title That Works, Strickland’s new show, which he performed for the first time Friday night at the Fringe.

Strickland calls himself a professional talker, and his talk is swell — stories about his idols as a boy, from Santa Claus to Superman to his honest-to-a-fault grandfather, stories about places he goes and things he sees. A lot of this is a stitch — especially the tales of his time in Metropolis, Illinois, a place that basks in its semi-fame as a town that was not home to Superman but is still home of the giant Superman statue, which turns out to be considerably less super than he imagined.

There are lessons in all of this, and especially in the open letters Strickland has written to himself as a boy and as a young man, which become part of the show. Those lessons are insightful, but they’re also a little platitudinous, and sometimes they stick out as sorely as if they were emblazoned with neon lights. Let’s hope that Strickland can weave those lessons a little less obviously into the stand-up, so that the two blend together — all the better to see this terrifically wry, smart and likable man for what he is.

Remaining shows:
Saturday May 21, 4:20 p.m.
Sunday May 22, 3:20 p.m.
Monday May 23, 6:55 p.m.
Friday May 27, 8:40 p.m.
Saturday May 28, 3:40 p.m.
Sunday May 29, noon.

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