"I'll Give You Something To Cry About.!" An Addictive Comedy.


Directed by Dan Frischman

Playing at Two Roads Theatre, Studio City

In all honesty, I'm not a big fan of one-man shows. They seem to quickly digress into nothing more than a performer's attempt to exorcise his/her demons, bleeding all over the audience with a slew of "My mother was not a mommy-dearest" to "My esteem was crushed from a string of loser boyfriends" to the ever-popular "I'm still recovering, please love me" pleads.

Jonathon Coogan could easily have thrown out those standard clichés and crowd non-pleasers to take us down these tried and over-worn paths, but instead, he just laid it all on the table with his considerable story telling and improv skills, honed in acting and comedy classes. You see, Jonathon Coogan was an addict, begot by a family of addicts, surrounded by a group of addicts, ever heading down the road to certain failure that waits for most addicts. But through guts, God and the love of a good wife, he's come back to his wits and, in so doing, delivers an impressively entertaining, albeit sometimes laborious, show.

Produced and co-written by Dan Frischman, best known for his five years as Arvid on ABC-TV's Head of the Class and his four years as Chris on Nickelodeon's Kenan & Kel, "I'll Give You Something to Cry About!" plums the depths and heights of Coogan's childhood. The title has a familiar ring: It's a phrase uttered time and again by Coogan's stepfather, although I'm sure a great many of us have heard it uttered in our own crying spats. However, instead of just an off-the-cuff remark, we soon learn that Coogan had more than his share of things to cry about.

Let's take, for example, his pot dealing mother who ends up in bed with Jonathon's best friend. Coogan's little brother tells his older sibling about the hook-up, but Jonathon just beats the younger boy in retaliation for telling lies. His mom, of course, denies it (hilariously demonstrated by Coogan's spot-on recreation of a good-for-nothing, whining, chain-smoking, dejected mother blathering nonsense out to her son between puffs on the cigarette, or whatever the drug-of-choice was for that moment). When Jonathon finds out that the bed-romps are true, he leaves home. The fact that his mom lied to him is harder to accept than just about anything.

Legitimate occupations elude Coogan, so he turns to the only thing he's ever known, drug dealing. Getting busted, then, is a good thing, because it catapults the man into rehab and 12-step groups and, ultimately, a sit-down with God. Although personal religious beliefs and come-to-Jesus moments don't overpower the story, we are left with the feeling that it took an effort of biblical proportions to leverage this wayward soul back to life.

Particularly poignant on this night was the fact that Coogan's wife, who figured prominently in the recovery part of the story, was in the audience. That "aw shucks" feeling was all but unstoppable (or unbearable) every time we saw the guy look at her.

That said, do know that the "play" is really not too much of a play, one-man shows rarely are. It's more of an active standup routine, which is fitting considering that Coogan has been involved with multiple Improv groups and festivals. Not that Coogan doesn't have multiple stage credits, because he does…of course, this is L.A., who doesn't, right?

His story-telling is commendable, bringing us right into the drama and comedy that framed his addictions. His story, though, is even better. This wasn't the most compelling production to be sure. It had minimal props, odd mood music, and the set wasn't altogether congruous with the time period. But the set and music were simply peripheral to the story. I would have loved to have "seen" more than "heard," but as it stands, I got the point. And I had fun. The best part, though, is knowing that this foul-mouthed, drug-addicted, broken man came out for the better on the other side. It's enough to make you stand up and clap at the end for a terrific journey.

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