BWW Review: David Mills BITTER ENDINGS Burns Slow and Hard at Pangea
About 20 minutes into David Mills' show BITTER ENDINGS, I threw back my head and laughed so hard and so loudly that the men sitting two seats away from me turned their heads and looked at me. Everyone else at Pangea had been laughing it up for a while, quite heartily so, but not me. I was taking out time to get a read on David Mills, trying to figure out who he is and what his act is. He started the show with a very odd song that I couldn't get, though the lyrics and the story were very clear: I just didn't know why anyone would choose to start their show with so off-center a choice as this one, a slightly discordant, repetitive song about divorcing his ex, Jim, and Mexico. At the end of the song, I listened to his patter to see if there was an answer to my query about the song choice and what I got was self-deprecation and mean-spirited estimations of famous singers, some of whom I rather like. As Mr. Mills continued with his patter it dawned on me: this isn't a music show. This is a stand-up comedy set. David Mills BITTER ENDINGS is exactly what it says it is - it's bitter, angry, cynical, jaded and oh-so-over it; and David Mills has created and embraced a character that has been given full permission to be all these things and to say anything that springs to mind, fitting into the parameters set down by the character and script. The realization of Mr. Mills chosen form of art and expression, I sat and watched, waiting for something that would bond us, something that would make me laugh, something that would meld with my usually optimistic disposition.
I didn't find it.
But there are times in my life when I am not optimistic, times when I am bitter, jaded, cynical, angry and over it. So I relaxed into my seat and into David Mills' routine and character and that's when it happened.
And I did not stop laughing until the end of the show.
David Mills BITTER ENDINGS is ruthless in its' originality. Mills respects no boundaries and pushes every envelope. With his Katharine Hepburn speech pattern, he embraces every topic that is important to him, from taboo talk about his sex life to the forbidden chat about politics, and he does it without hesitation and with no apology up his sleeve. Relentlessly, he powers forward, spouting rhetoric that made this profane writer-without-a-filter blush and murmur (or even exclaim) "oh NO!" and "Oh my lord!" and "Have mercy" repeatedly. Mills feverishly commits to the character he is playing, speaks to his audience members with refreshingly laid back aggression, and he brings every uncomfortable word, sentence, topic, and opinion into the cabaret room at Pangea, drops it all onto the floor and makes us sort through it with him. BITTER ENDINGS is, simply, one of the most flawlessly constructed nights of comedy one is likely to see, even if one doesn't particularly care to hear graphic conversation about gay sex - something that didn't seem to phase an audience of people that ran the gamut of every demographic from age to race, from sex to sexuality. The crowd stayed put and stayed with him, laughing, giggling, chuckling, screaming, howling, guffawing, and always with a slight blush to their cheeks as they wondered, silently, if they really heard him right.
I don't wish to be vague in my opinion of David Mills BITTER ENDINGS. I said at the top of this story that it took me 20 minutes to laugh. That might confuse people. So I am going to be very clear: David Mills BITTER ENDINGS is rude, it's crude, it's tacky, it's vulgar, it's dirty, it's filthy, it's offensive, it's in the worst possible taste. It is also blisteringly smart, achingly funny, uncompromisingly bold, staunchly unapologetic, blissfully original and completely, totally, absolutely enjoyable.
And I am extremely difficult to please when it comes to stand-up comedy. It takes real skill to make me laugh. So when I say this, you can know it comes from the deepest place of my own dark bitter heart:
I intend to attend as many performances of David Mills BITTER ENDINGS as my schedule will permit.
You should too.
Photos by Stephen Mosher