The one-man show that has been performed around the country since 1991 and eventually became the longest running solo play in the history of Broadway, is again dragging its club into the Tower Theatre-and with perfect timing...the show plays on Valentine's Day and the day after.
Isaac Lamb is one of six actors who perform the show, written and originally performed by comedian Rob Becker, throughout the country and I had to ask him what it's like to perform the same show, all by yourself, several hundred times (around 600 in Lamb's case.) It seems like he'd be reciting his fodder in his sleep or breaking into bits from the show in crowded supermarkets.
"Oh, I think I've done it about a million and a half times," he says. "But seriously, it really doesn't get old, I don't know why."
Then he offers a few guesses, one of which is the positive message about relationships that he conveys to the crowd night after night. And I know what you're thinking: this sounds a hell of a lot like a Tim Allen meets the women from "The View" to dish out some "women are from Mars men are from Venus, isn't that hilarious?" type of torture. But as far as I can tell, that's not the case with Caveman, and Lamb makes this clear, beating me to the punch before I can make a single "Everybody Loves Raymond" (I don't) comparison.
"On 'Everybody Loves Raymond' or other shows like that, it's always some dumpy guy and a really hot girl and the guy does something wrong, so by the end of the episode he has to apologize," Lamb says.
He read my mind. And this where Caveman takes a turn away from the predictable man-vs.-woman comedy by giving a more realistic take on relationships.
"Becker wanted to defend men, but honor women when he wrote this. Yeah, it's called Defending the Caveman, but it's not about attacking the cave woman. At the end it has a really positive message to it," Lamb says.
A positive message in a comedy isn't completely new - we can all think of a feel good comedy with a love-will-find-a-way message (like Deuce Biggalow: Male Giggalow - I know that's what all of you were thinking), but Lamb says Caveman has an almost therapeutic value to it. He even says that he's had couples tell him that after seeing the show, they feel like they no longer needed to go to their marriage therapist. He then rescinds this, to a degree, making clear that his one-man show isn't a substitute for professional treatment.
While Lamb is the only performer onstage, and the show is pretty damn funny, he says it's not merely an extra long stand-up routine. Those unfamiliar to the one-man show might have this misconception, but the piece has a storyline, ups and downs, coming across like, well, a theatrical presentation, which is what it is at heart.
The popularity of Caveman is widespread, as evidenced by the multiple cavemen and record-breaking Broadway run, but Lamb says the show's success also owes something to it's "underground movement" of fans who see the play, then come back again, bringing friends in tow.
If you think this subject matter is worn, remember that the ancient Greeks were writing plays about the differences between the sexes way before everyone decided they (for some reason) loved Raymond.
7:30pm Thursday & Friday, February 14-15. Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St., 317-0700. $28, $35/reserved. Vist the Tower box office or www.towertheatre.org for tickets.