Culture

‘The Performers’ Goes Out The Way It Came In—With Awful Jokes

Culture

‘The Performers’ Goes Out The Way It Came In—With Awful Jokes

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I was just wondering, “Should I go see The Performers?” when the show’s producers made my decision for me. After seven performances, the show has closed, making it the first casualty of the fall season and one of the finest flops in recent memory. It also gave headline writers around the country an opportunity to trot out sorely-underused impotence gags. Good job, fellas!

The producers tried to cast some blame on Hurricane Sandy, but the apparent ease with which the rest of Broadway bounced back from the storm suggests that the real fault might have been the hailstorm of nasty reviews. Think there’s a connection? Oh, I don’t know.

I read over most everything I could find that was written about the show, and I’m not surprised by how tame David West Read’s script sounds. It’s Broadway, and there’s nothing less raw than that. But I have to say, it’s a shame that a playwright would squander his Broadway debut on the dismal jokes quoted in the reviews. Some winners:

“Can we talk in private?”

“We can talk about Chuck’s privates!”

And:

“Let’s blow this joint.”

“Yeah, and if you’re lucky, I’ll let you blow my joint!”

Dear God.

But worst of all is Read’s reliance on a joke that should have been put out to pasture over a decade ago: funny porn titles. Add a sex quip to a normal title, and you’ve got instant humor as delicious as instant coffee. The Performers trots out such gems as Das Booty, Planet of the Tits and (sigh) 12 Angry Lesbians.

Comedy writers of the world—can we put this tedious joke behind us? Can we dig a joke-sized hole in the backyard and bury it under cover of darkness? Can we spend the seven or eight seconds it would take to come up with something else that’s funny about sex?

I mean, everything is funny about sex. Pick anything else.

Underlining the play’s toothlessness is an excellent feature in today’s Hollywood Reporter, about the business of running an agency for porn actors. While David West Read was squandering his excellent cast on two decade-old jokes, THR’s Daniel Miller was getting material for what would make for a sex comedy with some teeth. The story starts with an enema and only goes up from there.

The business is lucrative for Akira, though she declines to say how much money she makes. Spiegler helped her land a deal with Interactive Life Forms, the makers of the Fleshlight sex toy. The company has sold tens of thousands of $67.96 interactive rubber devices that simulate Akira’s vagina, mouth and anus. “I definitely love getting my Fleshlight check,” she says. “These are the deals you work toward.”

Now that’s dialogue, man. That’s porn.