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Review Roundup: OH, HELLO Opens on Broadway


At long last, Nick Kroll and John Mulaney's wildly popular alter egos, Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, will make their debuts on The Great White Way as Oh, Hello officially opens on Broadway tonight! Broadway World is bringing you all the reviews as they come in. Let's see what the critics had to say:

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: They also manage to paint an exquisitely painful portrait of a dysfunctional twilight bromance, in which the (sort of) patrician George dominates the (marginally) shlubbier Gil. The details that define their characters, too, are precise and impeccably off-center, a perfect match for their stained, saggy corduroys and fungoid gray hair.

Matt Windman, AM New York: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney's eccentric and enjoyable two-man comedy routine "Oh, Hello," which gained popularity on Comedy Central's "Kroll Show" and is now playing a limited run on Broadway, is intended for aging, oddball, scruffy, cranky, culturally (if not authentically) Jewish New Yorkers - and anyone else who identifies with or appreciates the same demographic.

Steven Suskin, The Huffington Post: Oh, Hello is not a play, exactly; it is more of a personal appearance by the Messrs. Faizon & St. Greegland, who blithely refer to themselves as "the orange pekoe teabag staining the countertop of American culture" and who "were recipients of a 1997 restraining order keeping us 100 feet at all times away from America's greatest actor, Mr. Alan Alda, baby." That's all you need to know. The evening also incorporates a haphazardly wispy play-within-a-play. The action is also filled out with altogether too much tuna, if you know what I mean; but I don't expect you will know what I mean unless you've seen the thing. And yes, there is too much tuna.

Johnny Oleksinski, The New York Post: "Oh, Hello," which opened Monday night on Broadway, has finally put an end to entertainment's interminable War on Fun. The smart, 95-minute two-hander created by and starring comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney dares to be hilarious, without a nanosecond of deeper meaning. And thank God for that.

Peter Marks, The Washington Post: Judging from the audience's enthusiastic greeting, the duo has acquired a following as a result of George and Gil's appearances on Kroll's now-ended Comedy Central sketch-comedy program, "Kroll Show"; a well-received off-Broadway run in 2015, and a national tour. It's devotion well-earned, because these comedians, who met as undergraduates at Georgetown University, have sharpened to a very funny point an acumen for keeping an audience off-balance - and eager for more.

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: Perhaps you have spotted them at diners, parks, used-book stores or Zabar's counters. Or maybe you've seen them in sketches on Comedy Central's Kroll Show, hosting a cable-access prank show called Too Much Tuna. Embodied with a gleeful blend of affection and mockery by Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, respectively, Gil and George are miraculous comic creations who have earned a well-deserved cult following. Oh, Hello on Broadway, directed by goofy-smart prince Alex Timbers, stretches the shtick to 95 minutes of metatheatrical horseplay.

Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: The show features one hilarious one-liner after another ("Fun fact for today...I am on competing medications," George informs us, in an example of the non sequitur style), gleefully taking potshots at such theatrical devices as the overly expository "one-sided phone call." You'll have to be on your toes to catch the spoofing of Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays, Jeremy Piven's mercury poisoning, and Griffin Dunne's geographical qualification for being a "New York actor." There's also a "surrealist ballet" and amusing special effects designed by master puppeteer Basil Twist.

Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News: Gil and George have written a play, and it's aswirl with jokes and jabs at actors, stage hokum and overripe clichés. The crotchety geezers bat that around for a while, then launch into NY and personal history. They lurch along and revisit their public access show "Too Much Tuna" - a chance for puppet master Basil Twist to show off his magic and for Seth Meyers to join the duo on stage. There's an unannounced cameo at each performance.

Linda Winer, Newsday: Alex Timbers, director of the hip "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" and the cornball "Rocky," encourages a breathless pace that suggests we are not meant to ponder too long on any of the foolishness. Scott Pask's set is pretty wonderful, with hair-dryer chairs from "Terms of Endearment" and a "Pillowman" trap door. There's a "surrealist ballet" and the "Too Much Tuna" scene nightly includes a celebrity guest interview. At the preview I attended, Paul Sorvino was the befuddled good sport, but audience members may also be summoned for pranking.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety: The core component of their act is pure character comedy. Looking a fright in floppy old-man wigs and baggy old-man outfits designed by Emily Rebholz, Gil Faizon (Kroll) and George St. Geegland (Mulaney) are 70-something roommates who have been living in a rent-controlled apartment on the Upper West Side for about half a century. Taking upon themselves the theatrical vibe of the neighborhood, George fancies himself a writer and Gil insists he's a working actor. To enlighten us about their work, they illustrate the techniques of delivering nonsensical curtain lines and making one-sided telephone calls. We should also be aware that, "if this is a drama, there will be screaming."

Jesse Green, Vulture: What they are actually satirizing through the medium of their hideously bewigged and age-spotted alter egos is sometimes a bit fuzzy; the characters are both in on the jokes and the butt of them. But either way the jokes are excellent, as they should be by now; the Broadway incarnation ofOh, Hello - sleekly directed by Alex Timbers - follows a sold-out 2015 Off Broadway run, a national tour, and almost a decade of development. (Kroll and Mulaney based the characters on two men they saw shopping at the Strand.) Along the way, the material has acquired a minimal plot, in which the rent on the "measly five-bedroom with crown molding" apartment at 73rd and Columbus that Faizon and St. Geegland have shared for 40 years is set to rise from $75 a month to $2,500. In order to keep enjoying their "god-given right" to this housing, the pair may have to compromise their artistic integrity by agreeing to take "Too Much Tuna," a radio show they used to host, big-time on local-access cable.

Robert Hofler, TheWrap: Their characters share a diffuse, off-center comic patter that promises to be much raunchier and offensive that it ever delivers. Jokes fly about the Holocaust, 9/11, O.J. Simpson's Bronco chase, and other crimes: "Gil's hair is like the JonBenet Ramsey case. The more you look into it, the more questions you have." Unfortunately, there's also talk about Gil having to leave the stage to go to the bathroom because his not-yet-ejected stool has gotten "pointy." (Sorry for that full disclosure, but it doesn't play any better in the Lyceum.)

Alexis Soloski, The Guardian: These septuagenarian grotesques are the alter egos of the comics Nick Kroll (Gil) and John Mulaney (George), first developed on alternative comedy stages and more recently seen on The Kroll Show in the segment Too Much Tuna. (Yes, enough tuna is used in this show to raise the mercury levels of everyone attending to dangerous heights. And this is even before the addition of a giant puppet depicting a tuna sandwich as incubus, which is practically guaranteed to give audience members nightmares. Also indigestion.)

Dave Quinn, NBC New York: The laughs rarely slow down in the pitch-perfect show either. Built for an audience of "comedy nerd and theater dorks," its laughs will resonate strongly with New Yorkers and Steely Dan fans alike.

Robert Feldberg, Bergen Record: For the person who comes to the theater innocent of knowledge of Kroll and Mulaney, their extended sketch of a show will likely depend on how he or she responds to a pair of cantankerous elder citizens who are jointly, in Gil's description, "the orange pekoe teabag staining the countertop of life."

Matt Windman, amNY: As staged by Alex Timbers (the freethinking director behind "Peter and the Starcatcher" and "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson"), "Oh, Hello" is 95 minutes of politically incorrect, gleefully silly fun. Jon Hamm and John Slattery apparently serve as understudies (at least according to the playbill), but I'd recommend sticking with Kroll and Mulaney.

Jesse Oxfeld, Entertainment Weekly: he entire effort feels surprisingly unambitious, with no real story, no attempt to welcome new audiences, no truly great comic moments. It's a sketch, drawn out. What's actually most interesting, if not really explored, is Kroll and Mulaney's obvious love for theater, through their jokes about recurring dramatic devices - the one-sided phone call, the bloody handkerchief that indicates imminent death, the profound curtain line - and bits of shtick about other plays. "We would rather kill Broadway than see it with anyone else," George says at one point. There's no death here, but that may just be for lack of trying.

Tim Teeman, TheDaily Beast: The Oh, Hello devoted left the Lyceum in audible bliss, while newcomers were happily dazed by the onslaught of jokes, skits, wordplay, meta-everything, and verbal carnage. Kroll, Mulaney, Faizon, St. Geegland, Reddington, and Stone would want it no other way. A mini-wave of sadness settled over this audience member, with the knowledge that it will be a while before the late 1970s is captured as vividly it was in Oh, Hello: "New York is a bankrupt, crime-ridden mess and it's awesome. Tires roll down the street on fire, and inside those tires? Babies with knives."

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