The bracingly honest stand-up Jimmy Carrane returns with World's Greatest Dad(?) | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

The bracingly honest stand-up Jimmy Carrane returns with World's Greatest Dad(?) 

He's become a master at the kind of storytelling he pioneered 28 years ago in I'm 27, I Still Live at Home, and I Sell Office Supplies.

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Jerry Schulman

It has been 28 years since storyteller, comedian, and teacher of improv Jimmy Carrane debuted his 1991 solo "intimate evening," I'm 27, I Still Live at Home, and I Sell Office Supplies at the then very outsider-ish Annoyance Theatre. At the time only a handful of performers did this kind of bracingly honest autobiographical work, most notably Spalding Gray. (Comedy clubs at the time were dominated by self-involved, proudly underinformed, testosterone-poisoned white guys, delivering rapid-fire punch lines about how irritated they were at everything and everyone.) Carrane's slower, more reflective, self-deprecating comedy style was honestly a breath of fresh air. It was also a big hit for Carrane, making his name, at least locally, and running for more than a year and a half.

Since then Carrane's style of "honest comedy" has become the norm in the stand-up world (best example: Hannah Gadsby's Nanette, though she is not alone), and in the world of the Moth and other Moth-ish storytelling events.

In his current show, performed at a space in Second City's Training Center, Carrane riffs on the themes of fatherhood—his ambivalent relationship with his workaholic father, his own ambivalence about becoming a father, the myriad ways he has learned, finally, in his early 50s, to become a father to himself and learn to accept himself as he is. Remarkably, Carrane tells his stories without a hint of bitterness or blame. Instead he gracefully mixes the sweet and the sour, one minute moving us with a serious observation, making us laugh out loud the next with a witty quip, and then moving us again with another of life's bitter truths. The last 28 years have truly deepened Jimmy Carrane, making him the master of a form he helped popularize back in the day.   v

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