Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010 | 4:52 p.m.
Writing about Jason Alexander’s new show The Donny Clay Experience at Planet Hollywood’s Peepshow theater is as difficult as the Seinfeld star has in “selling it.” All I can tell you is that it’s a laugh-a-minute riot -- and that you get to see him naked! (Well, at least in a flesh-colored body suit that accentuates the positives and the negatives!)
Here are the problems I have at the keyboard:
*What do I call it? It’s billed as a one-man show, but stars such as ex-Seinfeld cast mate Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, fellow comics Joan Rivers, Ray Romano and Brad Garrett, country king Brad Paisley and legendary Kirk Douglas all show up on video. Even talk show titan Larry King gets in his licks.
*What do we call him? You don’t know him as Donny yet. You remember him as George Costanza. You know he’s a poker-playing actor with a long resume, but you can’t quite put a finger on Jason’s credits other than Seinfeld. Yet here he’s a multi-talented standout, and it’s easy to understand why he won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 1989 for Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.
*How do I excite you when I tell you the script is about the world of motivational speakers and that you have to find “The Way”? But the way Jason spills the secrets of the world’s fourth- -- no, fifth -- -best motivational speaker, Donny Clay is hilarious. Jason said when I talked with him that he’s not caught up in the world of motivational speakers but finds what they preach extremely funny.
*How do I even begin to explain how you find the you in you? I thought I’d found the me in me years ago, but after one session with Donny, it’s all about the him in him. Now you’re as lost as I am!
*How do I push your G-spot by telling you he gets naked under a bathrobe, and yet with his height and stature, it’s hardly an Adonis moment?
*How do I begin to explain why the standing ovation he encouraged demanded that you scream out a four-letter obscenity many times about his performance?
*How do I grab your attention by saying that it’s nothing you’ve ever seen George do before? In fact, Jason’s character here -- complete with bad hairpiece -- is as far afield from the zany goings-on on Seinfeld as you can imagine.
*How do I warn you that as a member of the audience, you might be invited onstage to bear all in your own personal search to find your true self, and at the same time not feel tricked or conned? You’ll walk away from the ad-libbed script feeling like a co-star and knowing the audience has laughed along with you and not at you.
I recently interviewed Jason, who resumes his run of The Donny Clay Experience tonight after the premiere two weeks ago and taking off one week. The show is not just a standup bit, as Jason sings, dances and lectures, and man does he slap at Dr. Phil, Tony Robbins, Laura Schlesinger and all the others in this parody of the self-help industry.
The answer to all of the above questions after a week of reflection is that I can’t and I won’t even try. I promised Jason when we chatted that I’d think about how best he should position this confusing set of circumstances. I said maybe a brilliant idea would flash in my mind to overcome what it isn’t and what it really is. I though maybe I would find “The Way” to a solution as to how he could advertise it, market it and promote it. I totally failed because obviously I still have to find the me in me!
All I will tell you is that even when you’ve laughed yourself silly (tears streamed down my face in the sequence when he tries to counsel a former American Gladiator to bigger success), don’t run from the theater for air or a drink. The credits that roll are the funniest acknowledgments and validations I’ve ever heard. Priceless and beautiful, just like our photo gallery from contributing photographers Erik Kabik and Tom Donoghue.
Hey! Maybe that’s what we should just describe it as. Priceless, even if it costs $55 a ticket. Borrow the money, steal it or shell it out yourself for the ticket to 90 minutes of an unforgettable night of comedic hilarity. Beautiful because it takes true talent to stand on a stage solo and have an entire audience in the grasp of your talents. There simply aren’t many stars who can pull that off, even if you can’t tell your friends back home who you saw doing what!
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.