Review: Theresa Kloos' REASONS TO BE UNSUCCESSFUL at The Metropolitan Room Succeeds with Quirky Comedy and Charm

By: Sep. 14, 2016
Theresa Kloos. Photo via Kloos.

I once heard a great quote that, "Humor equals truth plus distance." In her tour de force, one-woman show REASONS TO BE UNSUCCESSFUL at the Metropolitan Room on September 2, comedian Theresa Kloos used her endearingly quirky sense of humor to bring the audience closer than we ever could have hoped for, in a night of comic show tunes, sassy pop songs, and spunky rock beats.

UNSUCCESSFUL debuted in June as a follow-up to her first show, REASONS TO BE UNPRETTY, which was her first "exploration of the trials and tribulations of a funny, albeit awkward girl growing up in Cleveland." This time around, Kloos is back with lessons learned and a powerful message to share--- infused with her humor, of course.

This time, we get to hear all about her bumpy transition to New York, a move that many of us remember quite well, with all of its ups and downs, nightmares, and awkward encounters. Although clichéd at times, Kloos' story is something we can all relate to: the idea of getting back on our feet when transplanted in a new environment, either figuratively or literally.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention one of the highlights of the night: a 10-minute opening act by NYC comedian Anish Shah. This clean, tight, and clever act set a great tone for the rest of the night--- and also sold me on catching Shah doing an entire set. He was a gracious and appropriate introduction to Kloos, who came on stage with her sparkling, mischievous grin, dressed in kiddie blue pajamas. As she zipped down her PJs to reveal another set (Batman this time around), she belted out a killer "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen while setting off a giant beach ball which she skillfully hit back and forth to the audience.

As Hicks picked up the pace with a bouncy rock beat (with backup by Brad Carbone on drums and Eli Katz Zoller on bass), Kloos does a sexy striptease into a tight-fitting burgundy mini dress, the only time I've witnessed an onstage dress change from pajamas in a cabaret show.

But Kloos' show is full of firsts. She goes into what it was like first moving to New York, her terrible temp jobs, and her first-time adjustments to life in the big city after growing up in the Midwest.

"What are the first things you do when you get to New York?" Kloos asks her enthusiastic audience. This leads us into a fast-paced spiral of attempts to fit in and be out and about, connected, and successful in the big city.

For a tired storyline, Kloos does a great job of reinvigorating this classic tale with new and revived material alike. The night features doo-wop tunes, like "Dream Lover" by Bobby Darin, as she tears up messages from sketchy online love suitors, Pink Floyd, Jessie J, and the haunting "Dream" by Priscilla Ahn, one of the only times we get to hear Kloos' sweet upper register. One of the highlights of the night is her witty imitation of Julie Andrews singing "I Have Confidence" from THE SOUND OF MUSIC as she laments her arrival to the Upper East Side for the first time, dealing with the spoiled antics of several entitled families. We hear about her hilariously disastrously OKCupid conversations (any material that involves reading actual messages from online dating courters is definitely bound to score up some laughs), the nanny jobs that didn't last very long, and her quest to lose weight with a great cover of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger," for which she throws on a Hefty garbage bag (seriously), a sweat band and wrist bands.

Kloos trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade and also worked closely with William Finn at Barrington Stage Company in one of his brilliant snarky musical comedies, ROMANCE IN HARD TIMES. Kloos, herself, has a gift for deadpan comedy and a coy, adorable wit that really comes across in the playful banter with her phenomenal pianist and musical director Michael Hicks. In one instance, after her tribute to online dating "Dream Lover," Kloos insists on belting out a powerfully self-indulgent, "All By Myself," to which Hicks keeps muttering into his microphone, "Please don't sing this song, Theresa.")

From her best Nicki Minaj "club" moves as she parodies going out in your late 20s, to an off-beat, too-terrible-to-be-real excerpt from a dating book her dad sent her called Play or Be Played, Kloos is a great overall performer with a knack for being bold, loud, and out there. But where she also succeeds in showing us a bit of her vulnerability as we see her react to her father's hilariously oblivious voicemails, and her closing reflection on what it takes to be successful in New York, in life, and in her own consciousness.

So what are Theresa Kloos' reasons to be unsuccessful? It is implied that the audience should laugh with her, cry with her, and grow with her as as tries to fit into various molds and interpretations of what she (and others around her) view as "successful."

Although this coming-of age story is one we've heard before, in REASONS TO BE UNSUCCESSFUL, Kloos is able to put a unique spin on it in. I came away with an appreciation of her powerhouse act of spectacular belting, quirky humor, fearless vulnerability that both entertains and strikes that dormant part of us that has longed to start fresh but has been too intimidated to start. What Kloos teaches us, however, is that the only "failure" is not starting at all. UNSUCCESSFUL succeeds with heart , comedy, and Midwestern charm.


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From This Author - Amy Oestreicher

Amy Oestreicher is a PTSD Specialist, Audie award-nominated playwright, performer, and multidisciplinary creator. Amy overcame a decade of trauma to become a sought-after trauma-informed teaching... Amy Oestreicher">(read more about this author)



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