In 1994, NPR legend Garrison Keillor wrote a short-story collection, The Book of Guys. In 1995, comedian Paul Reiser wrote Couplehood. The same year, Disney-owned comedian Tim Allen wrote Don't Stand Too Close to a Naked Man. In 1996, humorist Dave Barry wrote Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys ...
These books say much of the same: Men are funny, crude and pathetic; women are confusing and emotional, but ultimately more enlightened beings. Men prefer football and beer, women love shopping and small talk. It's the kind of easygoing suburban sexism that nobody seems to mind.
If you still enjoy this adorable gender war, then you will love Robert Dubac's The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?, at City Theatre. This folksy one-man-show manages to boil down the sentiments of every liberal male humorist -- about men, women, sex, commitment -- and tell a vague rhetorical story about a lonely slacker, his whiny fiancée and their superficial relationship (which may have broken up because of a cat).
Our antihero, Bobby, lives in an existential prison: Stage left is his masculine side -- messily decorated with fishing rods, beer bottles, a filing cabinet and posters -- and stage right is his feminine side, where stands a blank chalkboard. What follows is a yin-yang yo-yo: observations about male and female behavior, and decisions about what every man and every woman wants.
The appetite for gender-bashing is forever great: The Male Intellect smacks of PG-13 standup comedy, bumper-sticker wisdom, and those forwarded e-mails about how women are moody and men are egotistical. Because apparently, it's that easy: Bobby has a story, but there's not much to it and, as for the (ex) fiancée, we never learn the faintest thing about her. (What does she do? Where is she from?)
On the other hand, to the credit of this show, a good joke, told well, will always be funny, and Ben Evans, as the solo performer, is quick, physical and precise. Evans sweetly provokes his audience, earning laughs with even the subtlest gestures. And his Jack Nicholson impression is unparalleled.
Nevertheless, if you find "guys" obnoxious, puerile and backward, The Male Intellect may feel a little tedious. In real life, the good males grow up, cease to be guys and transform into real men. Real men, confident in their masculinity, find little endearing about guys. For them, The Male Intellect is less a comedy than a cautionary tale.
Now where'd my beer go?
The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron? continues through July 8. City Theatre, 1300 Bingham St., South Side. 412-431-CITY, or www.citytheatrecompany.org.