Get a Rise, and a Laugh, from The Accidental Pervert
Enough praise cannot be given for Andrew Goffman's brilliant performance of The Accidental Pervert. Hilarious and horrifying at the same time, this one-man show is altogether eye opening in the best of ways!
The Accidental Pervert, which began as part of Goffman's comedy act, had previously been performed throughout various clubs on the comedy circuit. Under the direction of Charles Messina, Goffman learns to transform his routine from a series of jokes into a story set within a specific framework. With ease, you can recognize how random jokes melted away into an actor's internal dialogue with a solid plot containing a cohesive beginning, middle and conclusion. You can tell that Goffman comes from a comedic background because although he still seems a little "rough around the edges" he is clearly confident alone on stage carrying the show with ease. Goffman literally puts himself out on the line with the most brutally honest yet endearing story to tell, hoping the audience will laugh. If his jokes don't "get a rise" out of the audience, execution and direction alone cannot be blamed. The Accidental Pervert is a performance of Goffman reliving his life. If no one is laughing, it's because the audience doesn't find the humor in his non-fictional story. And the experiences Goffman shares with us on stage is the nitty gritty part of life; there isn't anything pretty about it. For an actor to do that, it shows a great deal of courage and confidence for taking the risk and believing you can make the material work.
The Accidental Pervert takes the audience on a biographical tour of Goffman's life from age 11 onward. Goffman explains while clearly trying to win the audience's sympathy that no one "starts out wanting to be a pervert," yet things happen that clearly change the result of that sentiment. Goffman claims that his addiction to pornography was the result of him accidentally stumbling upon his father's collection which sent him into a mindset from which he never returned. As Goffman explains the incident, you can see the innocence melting away in front of your face. "You don't think of your dad having sex," Goffman says with puppy dog eyes, "excitement to him is like a good steak, but not sex." The incident leaves Goffman with a vast collection of emotions from fear to humiliation to confusion to being intrigued to being excited. From this point on, Goffman enters a world where sex, pornography and masturbation are rulers of his universe. They are the most important elements to his days and they creep into his every conscious moment.
What's fun to note is that I was witnessing all this from a female perspective. Yeah, I grew up with an older brother and I've lived with male roommates, so I obviously thought I was somewhat knowledgeable about this "fact" of malehood. Well let me take this moment to admit I was fully misunderstood. Although being a woman in this case didn't allow me to have a truly relatable advantage, I was still shocked nonetheless by what Goffman said. The first thing out his mouth was that he started masturbating when he was 11. While some of the men in the audience chuckled, all I could think was, "My God? That young?" Goffman explained that by the time he entered high school, he had watched so many adult movies, that his obsession grew. After four years of an intense pornography regime, it just wasn't good enough anymore to watch. In a complete contradiction, Goffman says he, "needed the real thing; he had to have the fantasy." I never had the perspective of a 15-year-old boy with raging hormones thrown so directly in my face before. I presume that I come from a bit of a conservative background and although I've always accepted that people had sex at 15, I always thought it was still a bit on the young side. But now, understanding the back-story to why the hormones are raging in teen boys that age, I almost think it's a necessity. Goffman had the power with his words and dare I say it, actions, to cause me to think for a moment. He forced me to broach the subject through another perspective and I'm glad he did. He gave me a chance to view things about a topic that far too many men, for good reason, will never get into with women.
The audience watches as Goffman grows up, explaining through comedy how pornography factors into every aspect of his life and how it shapes his perspective of women. He admits that he saw women as objects and never felt the need to get to know them. Sex was the ultimate goal and he could easily get women to let their guard down with alcohol in order to achieve his pornographic vision. His perspective however eventually changes upon meeting his future wife. He recalls that she was the first time he ever wanted the sex to be "special" and that he didn't mind waiting for that moment. He and his wife Maria, eventually have a daughter which presents Goffman with a new pair of eyes to view the world. He finds through her, the innocence that accidentally left him as an 11 year-old boy and leads him to embrace his world, and his daughter's, with renewed spirit and vision.
So maybe a little bit of my innocence was ruined on this night as well. However, in retrospect, I'm glad it did; there are worse ways to find out about the habits of our lovable men. Instead, Goffman takes us on a wild roller coaster ride of emotions starting at disgust and ending at acceptance. Never too heavy, but always completely over the top, The Accidental Pervert will "bring you to your knees" as the best PR that the male race could ever want.
The Accidental Pervert is playing at the Triad Theater on West 72nd Street between Broadway and Columbus through February 24th. Performances are Thursdays and Fridays at . Please call 212-868-4444 or visit www.SmartTix.com for tickets.
Photos courtesy of Paul Urban
From This Author Amanda Scarpone