Local venue to host Lewis Black play
Comedian Lewis Black will arrive in New Brunswick next week to debut his new play “One Slight Hitch,” which will open Tuesday at the George Street Playhouse.
While students might know Black as a stand-up comic or actor from films like “Accepted,” Black said he originally began working as a playwright.
“I spent a long time doing plays before I did stand-up,” he said.
Black started writing “One Slight Hitch” 30 years ago and said the play experienced a fair amount of success before it was dropped.
It was not until 20 years later that Joe Grifasi, the production’s current director, collaborated with him to bring the play back into the limelight, he said.
“[The current version] has the same idea and the same stuff, it’s just that the structure is better and about two-thirds of the scenes have been rewritten,” Black said. “Hopefully I am a better writer now.”
While he originally began writing plays that involved less accessible themes, Black said he soon realized he could not make a living from playwriting unless he was a commercial success.
Kelly Ryman, director of marketing and public relations at the George Street Playhouse, said Black is the first to admit that the audience-friendly production is a departure from his usual “in-your-face” comedic style.
“The first day of rehearsal that we had there, he spoke to the whole company and said that if he hadn’t known that he wrote the play, he would not have believed it himself,” Ryman said.
The play, which is about a series of unexpected comedic events that occur as a family prepares for a daughter’s wedding, recently showed on the West Coast along with the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts where Ryman said it was well received.
She said the George Street Playhouse is a great option for the play’s next destination because of its location, which makes it easy to assemble a talented cast.
Black agreed the venue’s location played a factor in booking the show.
“[The George Street Playhouse] is 45 minutes form New York. It’s the closest you can get to working outside of the city and still be able to get home, and it’s a great little space,” he said.
Among the headliners in “One Slight Hitch” is Mark Linn-Baker, who Ryman said people might know from his role as Larry Appleton on the sitcom “Perfect Strangers.”
Ryman said employees feel fortunate because the playhouse attracts top-bill performances, which she said is because of word of mouth.
“I think the folks working here have a great time … and they tell other people ‘Yeah, you should go to the George Street Playhouse,’” she said.
She hopes the theater can also attract students to the play.
“I think it’s a really fun show and it’s a great laugh and … we hope that everyone will stop by and see it,” she said.
Black, who continues to tour as a stand-up comic and makes frequent appearances on “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, said he is not sure if he will continue writing plays after “One Slight Hitch.”
“Playwriting is about as painful a process that you can go through. It makes stand-up feel like a day at the beach,” he said. “A play is like taking a giant jigsaw puzzle of a blue sky and trying to put it together. It’s absurd.”
Black said the play would not be his first contribution to New Brunswick. The comedian spent time in the city during the 1990s when he worked for the Stress Factory Comedy Club on Church Street.
While Black admitted he never visited the University, he said students should make the most of their time on campus.
“They say college are the best years of your life, well they f——n’ are,” said Black, who received his Master of Fine Arts in Drama from Yale University. “If you are not having a great time in college, then transfer.”