From left, Arj Barker, Doug Benson, Tony Camin in Marijuana-Logues at the Actors Theater
The Actors Playhouse on Seventh Avenue in Greenwich Village had a face-lift just in time for three guys to sit on simple black stools and unfold their minds about the vicissitudes of Marijuana.
Marijuana-logues seem to have been born simply out of the creatively, perhaps altered, minds of Arj Barker, Doug Benson and Tony Camin. These three comics took Eve Enslers Vagina Monologues as inspiration and just kept going. Lets be clear: Enslers work is funny, poignant and often serious; the monologues about marijuana are only hilarious. And thats enough.
The three guys sit down stage and regale the crowd, who laugh raucously, about their exploits with this drug. Call it weed, Maryjane, ganja, and believe me they do go through the entire iconography of how to smoke, what its been called and the many side effects of smoking pot.
What keeps the evening from devolving into a total stoners rant is the fact that these guys are real comics. They arent you and your brother all toked up giggling in the bathroom with a towel stuffed under the door. These guys, if they did get high to find material, obviously edited it stone cold sober.
You have to remember, as the comics point out, they have over 45 years of smoking between the three of them so they come to this diatribe with some experience. Audience members will learn about hemp clothes, do not try to smoke them even in the most desperate circumstances. The show has a funny parody of If your Marijuana could talk where the lowly plant taunts the smoker with the idea that WOW you actually pulled together 60 bucks, now thats impressive. And Do you know that your roommate pinches me when you are not around.
The closest these monologues come to having a socially proactive statement regarding drug laws or legalization is a piece on what transgressions are legal in Las Vegas. That includes: prostitution, gambling and drinking free alcohol until you pass out. But if you want to smoke a joint, eat a Snickers Bar and expire quietly in your hotel room you could be in for some real legal trouble.
I do wish that the actors, when they had the rapt attention of the audience, had taken a tiny moment to unfold some of the rather stunning inconsistencies in drug laws and how they target people of color and especially lower economic groups. After all, many of us are aware that a coked-up Ivy League lawyer has a much better chance of getting off if stopped by the cops than a single mom who shared a joint after her waitress shift ended.
My favorite rift was about driving while under the influence. The very high driver in his drug-induced paranoia decides that the street cleaner following him must be the chief of police as there is no other explanation for the big spinning wheel and his slow speed as he tails our narrator. In the end the driver decides to ward off the fuzz by pulling over in the pine tree he sees up ahead; only to discover that the tree he saw was the air freshener hanging from his rear view mirror. I love silly so for me anytime adults reveal how wacky, confused or delusional they are I am in paroxysms of laughter. For the rest of the audience it was the munchies or red eyes, cottonmouth or the demise of relationships.
So what if Marijuana-Logues doesnt take a social stand on Rockefeller drug laws. It is pure entertainment that seems to mirror the slightly-off-kilter high in the air as spring slowly makes its way onto the island of Manhattan.