When most people think of Broadway, the first image that comes to mind is a stage full of chorus kids singing and dancing their hearts out. But the Great White Way also has a long tradition of comedy. From Kaufman and Hart’s The Man Who Came to Dinner to Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple to Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Broadway playwrights and performers have kept audiences in stitches. Here’s a look at the five funniest shows on the New York boards right now.
The Book of Mormon
If it’s from the creators of South Park, of course it’s hilarious. This ribald and raunchy musical satirizes religion, politics and other Broadway shows. The kooky plot follows two young Mormons as they embark on their joint mission to convert residents of the most downtrodden village inUganda. Their idealism is crushed when confronted with unrelenting poverty and marauding warlords. The guffaws really start when socially-inept Arnold begins adding elements of his favorite sci-fi movies to Mormon scripture and golden boy Kevin puts in for a transfer to his favorite place on earth—Orlando, Florida. Funniest number: “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream.”
All the awkward moments of a first romantic encounter are captured in real time in this fast and funny new musical. Nebbishy, conventional Aaron (Zach Levi of Chuck) is set up by a co-worker with edgy, artistic Casey (Krysta Rodriguez of Smash). Both have been burned in the dating wars and are wary of each other. They meet in a restaurant-bar where the waiter and four fellow diners play all the roles in Aaron and Casey’s heads. Psychotherapy sessions, flashbacks to unsuitable exes and fantasies of disapproving parents and friends play out in 90 riotous minutes.
A Gentelman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Multiple homicide may not seem like the ideal focus of a musical comedy, but this new tuner milks plenty of laughter out of manslaughter. Set in the elegant Edwardian era, the plot concerns ne’er-do-well Monty Navarro who discovers he is ninth in line to the fabulous D’Ysquith family earldom and fortune. Monty systemically knocks off the eight D’Ysquith relatives who stand in his way. All of the victims are played by Tony winner Jefferson Mays in a tour-de-force performance.
Billy Crystral returns to Broadway in this autobiographical one-man show, which won a Tony Award in 2005. Combining memoir and stand-up, everyone’s favorite Oscar host recounts hisLong Islandchildhood. You’ll love Crystal’s hysterical tales of his jazz-promoter father, his courageous mother, an uncle who resembles “Santa Claus on acid,” the wedding of a gay cousin and dozens of other heartwarming, rib-tickling stories.
Shakespeare’s comedy of mistaken identity may be more than four centuries old, but it still packs a comic wallop, especially went presented in an approximation of the original Elizabethan production with an all-male cast, lighting by candlelight and period instruments. Two-time Tony winner Mark Rylance (Boeing-Boeing, Jerusalem) leads the cast as the lady Olivia. When Viola (Samuel Barnett) washes up on the shores of Ilyria and disguises herself as a male page, the stage is set for sexual shenanigans. British author-actor-comedian Stephen Fry also stars as Olivia’s pompous butler Malvolio in the hit staging from Shakespeare’s Globe, playing in repertory with Richard III.