BOOK OF MORON REVIEWS

At the very same moment that seven Democratic presidential hopefuls energetically raked each other over the coals during Tuesday night’s television debate, Robert Dubac – an actor, writer, comedian and grand master of sleight-of-hand (and mind) – gleefully strode the stage of the Broadway Playhouse in his scintillating one-man show, “The Book of Moron.” And in 90 uninterrupted minutes of altogether irresistible satire he ingeniously nailed the current regrettable state of the nation and the world at large. Not since Robin Williams took magic carpet rides on his supersonic brainwaves, and George Orwell warned of the dangers of the corruption of language, has there been such whip-smart, razor-sharp entertainment and analysis. (Yes, Dubac is in very good company.)

Before reading any further however, be advised: If you think the plethora of adjectives delivered in the opening paragraph of this review smacks of overkill, it is intentional, as well as irrefutably deserved. For the monumental challenge engendered by Dubac’s show, which rails against the intellectual debasement of contemporary American life, is to incorporate as many four-syllable (or more) words as possible while simultaneously eliminating the use of the word “amazing.” This is especially true if in the process of describing the linguistic and semiotic “salad” that is the essential “plat du jour” in this ingeniously crafted, winningly mischievous, flawlessly delivered, playfully naughty, tone-perfect rumination on religion, race, sex, politics, the media and, above all, that elusive thing called truth. Warning: No canard is left unexposed.

The premise of the show is that Dubac (a trim, fleet-footed man who signals his age by confessing he is of a generation still familiar with compact discs), is recovering from “transient global amnesia” (temporary memory loss) suffered when he fell on a patch of black ice on his way into a convenience store. The task at hand is for him to regain his intellectual and moral bearings in a society in which fake news, multifaceted hypocrisy, and a general dumbing down generated by everything from reality TV to social media has run rampant.

The title of the show (which bears the most fitting subtitle of “Funny has never been this smart”), is neither a typographical error, nor a jab at Restorationist Christianity (otherwise known as Mormonism) that inspired a hit Broadway musical.

Rather, with its airtight structure and whip-smart, wholly engaging delivery, it is designed to provoke thinking – probing the contradictions and distortions that bedevil us on every level these days. And Dubac even takes this to the most literal level as he challenges himself and his audience to think “inside and outside the box,” and he periodically jumps into and out of an actual one. (There also is the additional prop of a soap box, part of the show’s minimalist set that has little more than a tricked-out chalk board, a length of rope and standing microphone – both of which have erectile properties – and cigarette-like AirPods that Dubac refers to as his “bull.... detectors.”

Along the way, the actor populates the stage with reminders of his multiple alter egos: His Voice of Reason, His Common Sense, His Inner Moron, His Inner Child, His Inner Asshole and His Scruples. In addition, there is his dog, Wilson, who was left locked in his car in the wake of his accident.

I could go on, and on. But “Book of Moron” is meant to be performed, not described, and it can only get lost in translation. Go see it.

Performances of “Book of Moron” are Feb. 26, 27 and 28 at 8 p.m., Feb. 29 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and March 1 at 2 p.m and 6 p.m. at the Broadway Playhouse, 175 E. Chestnut St. For tickets ($69), call (312) 775-2000 or visit BroadwayInChicago.com. Running time is 90 minutes with no intermission.

By Hedy Weiss / Chicago Theater Critic
Scintillating ‘Book of Moron’ Intellectually Invigorating in an Era of Catastrophic Dumbing Down
"Irresistible Satire, Whip-Smart, Razor-Sharp"
By Amy Martin / Dallas Theatre Critic
Comedy of Critical Thinking
"Incredibly Smart and Very Funny"

“If thinking were easy, everyone would do it.”  This tagline from THE BOOK OF MORON is why I love comedy and comedians. In the latest theatrical laugh-fest from creator Robert Dubac, the voice of his Common Sense explores the line comedians cross between offensive and funny, between illusion and truth. “If we think hard enough, we can wake up” is not just metaphorical in THE BOOK OF MORON.  Robert Dubac’s character Bob is in a coma, possibly from too much talk radio. In his 80-minute journey through consciousness, Bob morphs to a series of interior selves to remember who he is. Led by his Voice of Reason, it’s frequently overruled by his Inner Child, Inner Moron, Inner Asshole, and aforementioned Common Sense - with his Scruples residing in humanity, a.k.a. the audience.

 

Is this relevant in our post-election turbulence or what?

 

With Herculean effort, Bob journeys through all four levels of truth - the Illusion of Truth, the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth. His first step is to break free from the Pavlovian indoctrination of sex, race, religion, media, and politics. To do so, he must leave the comfort of the box where no thinking is necessary and venture into the murky terrain of belief. Does he press 1 for truth or 2 to remain in the dark?

In the classic progression of Nietzsche’s superman, we are exhorted to erase what we’ve been told to see what we already know. Never would I have thought to find Taoist teachings laced with existentialism in a comedy show. Sound heavy? Not in the least. Dubac folds in plentiful jokes from erudite to just plain silly. 

THE BOOK OF MORON is a visually sharp show, with few but effective props, including Dubac’s trademark twirling chalkboard. The backdrop is the shape of a brain comprised of white sheep huddled together with vacant gazes, except the lone black sheep who stares straight forward.

Not a minute goes by without a laugh, and he even adds well done magic tricks. THE BOOK OF MORON is briskly paced with a momentum that builds in a sly way as concepts are layered in, returned to, and flipped over.

Bottom line: Truth is always more offensive than comedy.

By John Moore / Denver Post Theatre Critic
A Razor-Sharp Comedian
"High Concept comedy that is Provocative and Smart"
"Brainy and Plenty of Laughs"

Robert Dubac’s latest solo undertaking, THE BOOK OF MORON, is one man's existential journey to find the elusive "truth."  It's an erudite comic trek through all the hypocrisies and half-truths that have left America deeply divided. Dubac is not so much a man without a country as a man without a place in a country that has lost its way.

The veteran comic is older, wiser and still trying to figure out how it is we turned into a nation of such shallow, ignorant dunderheads as he journeys into the heart of our ignorance. This is high-concept comedy that is provocative and smart; a philosophy lecture with punch lines.

Looking very professorial, Dubac stands before a chalkboard with the words "sex," "race," "religion," "media" and "politics" written on it. These are both his topics of conversation and the targets in his cross hairs.  To make his points, he employs a combination of magic tricks, verbal gymnastics and straight-up observational comedy. Trading on deep divisions that exist in every corner of American life, Dubac almost biblically parts his audience.  No one on the left or right gets out cleanly.

With THE BOOK OF MORON Dubac again blurs the lines between stand-up and theater by his use of multiple characters. Here they're not so much specific people as personifications of our experience, curiosity, reason and common sense.  The bottom line: Dubac is back and brainy with plenty of laughs, a razor-sharp comedian.

By Claire Martin / Denver Post Theatre Critic
Solo "Book of Moron" a Witty Inner Exploration
"A Terrific Show... Sharp Humor... Clever and Acute" 

First off, THE BOOK OF MORON has absolutely nothing to do with "The Book of Mormon". That said, THE BOOK OF MORON, Robert Dubac's one-man show about a brain-injured patient struggling to recover his memory of himself, is a terrific show in its own right, witty and incisive. There is lean-faced Dubac, cheekbones sharp as his humor, describing his peculiar situation. It's "not the typical brain damage - you know, from watching 'Duck Dynasty'," he says. 

Reaching into his brain as if it's a file cabinet, he calls upon his various personas - his Inner Child, his Common Sense, his Voice of Reason, etc. - to help sort out this predicament. It helps to look at his hospital bracelet, too. Deciphering it, Bob figures out he's in a coma, has a traumatic brain injury, but "DNR" slips past his comprehension the first time or two. One of his inner personas gets it though, and that reaction causes Bob to wonder whether "swearing is a sin or a skill." And on to other metaphysical questions: How to spot the difference between truth and illusion? Does God approve of gay marriage? (He must be OK with it because religious art suggests that God allowed gays to decorate Heaven.) 

THE BOOK OF MORON snaps along at a brisk clip, with the occasional flurry of misdirection to startle and amuse the audience. Dubac is a deft magician as well as a honed wordsmith. He has improvisational skills, too. Let that be a warning to anyone who forgets to visit the restroom prior to this 90-minute intermission-free show. 

THE BOOK OF MORON is clever and acute. "If Thinking Was Easy, Everyone Would Do It," is the play's subtitle. True enough. 3.5 stars out of four!

By Dylan Brody
THE BOOK OF MORON: Comedy Beyond the Brick Wall 
"Joyous Laughter... Provocative... A Master of His Craft" 

In The Book of Moron, Robert Dubac presents wisdom disguised as wit and high art in the guise of mass-appeal entertainment. This is no easy feat. Audiences that grew up on the televised stand-up showcase programs of the eighties and nineties have been systematically conditioned to respond to the most generic premises and to reject out of hand anything that smacks of messaging. Older audiences who can remember the comedy heyday of Carlin and Pryor, Saul and Bruce shy away from anything that feels empty or pandering.

Dubac's solution to this issue is as elegant as the script he has written to explore the value of critical thinking in a world that encourages purely Pavlovian behavior. Packaging his show as a theatrical event rather than a stand-up act, he sets a tone that allows a demanding audience to take an interest in what he does. Making the humorous nature of his work apparent in the marketing, he draws in the audience that seeks joyous laughter but never tips his hand, never acknowledges the important undertones of his creation.

Using a delightful array of theatrical devices -- magic tricks, basic neuro-linguistic programming, word play, a blackboard that reveals hidden truth and then becomes a doorway to a less-than-comforting experience of enlightenment -- he delivers all the laughs a person could hope for and a great deal more as well. He offers real insight into the human condition, the struggle to find meaning in a modern world, the quest for one's own identity, the complex structure of belief. From the moment Dubac takes the stage claiming to have lost his memory it is clear that he is a master of his craft, that he controls the moment and that we, the eager audience are in good hands. Dubac embraces his responsibility as a tour guide to the psyche. Chock full of wonderful laughter, joyful surprises and unexpected applause-break moments, The Book of Moron is a show that is well worth seeing.

 

Seriously.

© 2020 by Robert Dubac


 

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