Even Timothy Lear's burned-out drug jokes were stale
DR. TIMOTHY LEARY
An Evening of Stand-up Comedy
At the Catch A Rising Star Comedy Club.
Wednesday, February 1.
By DAVID M. J. SASLAV
WHAT DR. TIMOTHY LEARY was doing at Catch A Rising Star near his former home at Harvard Wednesday night, I really cannot say. It wasn't stand-up comedy (as he himself was quick to point out), and, sure enough, it wasn't funny. But neither was it cogent dissembling, deep thinking, stimulating debate, or compelling reasoning. In fact, there were virtually no redeeming elements whatsoever to Leary's presence on stage.
In a painfully long "set," Leary rambled on in a detached, quasi-improvisatory style about the need for improvisation in everyday thinking. He name-dropped and muttered his way through a condemnation of institutionalized education, and garbled a history of quantum physics. His attacks on organized religion were utterly pedantic. In defending "new thinking in the face of accepted teaching" he never once mentioned Galileo or Copernicus, and championed the likes of former MIT professor and world-renowned crackpot Ed Fredkin. His analogies, while timely, lacked appeal. And worst of all, perhaps, he demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of the societal forces about which the masses had come to be enlightened. Through overgeneralization and underpreparedness, he only narrowly avoided making a complete fool of himself.
There were some diverting moments, of course, though they were few and far-between. He raised a hearty cheer when he proudly proclaimed "I'll gladly do anything Ed Meese tells me not to do!" His depiction of the ultimate Orwellian nightmare come true ("Millions of people, sitting around, sucking up junk food from the big screen in their living rooms") was apt, although an easy target. I particularly enjoyed one of his analogies, namely, that expressionism in art served as a parallel to quantum descriptions of the nature of physics.
Throw in some stale, burned-out drug jokes and you have about all that was even memorable from this arduous monologue.
Paul Kozlowski, who opened the show, looked great by comparison. His impression of a trip to the dentist, including everything from the opening strains of Muzak to the grisly climax in "The Chair," scored a hit. So did his propositions for new television fare on the religious network: "Leave It To Jesus" and "I Dream of Jesus." "Copier Repairman Day" and "Uncle Larry Day" represented potential new holidays, both devised by the greeting card companies solely to bolster sales. Unfortunately, though, even this nationally-acclaimed performer relied far too much on intra-set self-referencing. Some of the jokes had no endings, and had clearly not been fully thought through beforehand. By introducing an impression of John Madden explaining things to the audience on an imaginary electronic chalkboard, however, he cleverly provided himself an escape clause for jokes that no one understood. By the third time, however, even this device had grown stale.