Robert Dubac is currently workshopping Inside the Male Intellect (TV. 10.0) at Rattlebrain Theater because he's about to tape it for cable. This show is an updated version of The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron, an engaging monologue that began in Denver almost a decade ago and has since traveled the country winning good reviews and enthusiastic converts.
The material isn't scintillating, but it is amusing, and Dubac -- who's an excellent actor -- delivers it with easy charm. He strolls across the stage holding a glass of something red, chatting with the audience, impersonating various characters, illustrating his points on a blackboard and meditating on the eternal questions about the differences between men and women. His characters include a 123-year-old man who's still seeking the perfect woman. Because he suspects she may be a mermaid, he's fishing for her with various kinds of bait, including a money clip. Dubac also becomes a strutting male chauvinist, a puzzled kid and his own sweetly hostile feminine side. Some of the assumptions are stereotypical: All women love to shop. All men are addicted to sports. Men think more (though usually about trivial or mechanical things), while women feel more. But it's all done with self-deprecating humor.
One of the best moments occurs when Dubac illustrates car etiquette. Behind the wheel, the archetypal male is happy and aggressive, filled with adrenaline. But then his wife takes over, and he moves into the passenger seat. Dubac's expression of helplessness, boredom and baffled fury here is priceless. I liked his small gestures, too: the jutted chin with which the male of the species expresses that he's said all that can be said about a given topic, no one is to argue, and he's now moving on; the "God, that is dumb" moue, eyebrows raised, mouth slightly dropped, with which the woman responds.
I was laughing so hard and enjoying myself so much that I was sorry when the show was over. So I was glad when Dubac announced that more comedy would follow after the intermission, when he wanted to test material from a new show called Piss and Moan.
The presentation began with a joke about complainers. I've forgotten the first line, but here are the second and third:
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"A company of people complaining is a union.
"A country full of people complaining is France."
There I was, mellow and happy, prepared to recommend Male Intellect to everyone I knew, and within seconds, Dubac had managed to insult first working people and then an entire European nation. I had thought him worldly and somewhat knowledgeable, and he turned out to be a foot soldier in the Bush administration's inane culture war against the country that warned us that attacking Iraq would be a mistake. Now, I expect this kind of thing from our own Governor Owens, who entertained the Republican convention in Michigan with the following bonehead sallies: "You know why they planted those big trees along the boulevard in Paris? So the invading armies could march in the shade." And: "You know why the new French navy has glass-bottom boats? So they can see the old French navy." But I didn't expect it from someone who had seemed to have a sense of irony.
I wanted to leave, but as a critic, I couldn't. In the interest of fairness, I did my best to subdue my anger and judge the humor of the rest of the evening. There was a boring monologue about O.J. Simpson and the media, and a far better one in which Dubac proved that if Democrats and Republicans got together, they could solve most of our current problems. His Republicrat politician was bluff and dismissive, and he got in some zingers at the expense of both parties. Then there was an annoying riff about airline hostesses, a funny one on the FCC and the use of the word "bullshit" on television, an alphabet of religions in which insightful moments alternated with flat ones. Because Dubac is workshopping these monologues, they'll probably become tighter as the run goes on. At present, I'd recommend catching the first half of his act and skipping the second.