Would you spend two hours of your life watching Mike Tyson regale you with stories of his bad relationships, ear-bitings and recent comeback? Would do it if he was live on a stage in front of you? If you answer triumphantly, "Hell yeah," than get yourself a flight to New York quickly. Tyson is appearing on stage, portraying himself, in a limited run of the boxer's life story entitled, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth.
The one-man show is based on a previous run that Tyson took to Las Vegas but has been retooled somewhat by director Spike Lee. The concept sounds almost too bizarre to be true and could easily fall into either the "best" or "worst idea ever" category.
New York Times writer Neil Genzlinger's review of the show is placing it in the latter. Genzlinger's beef with the production is that Tyson is asking his audience to cut him some slack, even to sympathize. But the "undisputed truth" lacks some... truth, according to the review.
It's funny that so many celebrities, noted and otherwise, think that they 1. Have a good back-story and 2. Any type of stage presence. Tyson joins a long list of famous people that have gotten up and vomited out their life stories for the paying public. Some such productions have been very successful. Just this past year Houston had the opportunity to witness actress Carrie Fisher's well-received one-woman show, Wishful Drinking. John Leguizamo won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show in 1998 for his autobiographical production Freak. Comedian Mike Birbigilia also had a theatrical hit with his one-man show Sleepwalk With Me.
But for every good production about some celeb's torturous childhood that led to drugs, there is one that is equally bad. Charlie Sheen's self-performance tour My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option proved to be disastrously un-winning (sorry), and William Shatner's one-man, Shatner's World: We All Just Live in It, garnered mostly negative reviews.
I suppose you can't blame anyone for trying. We all think we have a great narrative to tell, despite the fact that most of us have lived completely un-Broadway worthy lives. Hollywood types are constantly being asked to discuss their fabulous existence, so it's no wonder they think using the stage as a public forum to do just that is a worthwhile endeavor. Who deserves the spotlight, though? Here are five one-man/woman shows that I wouldn't mind sitting through.
Say what you will about Lohan, but if she did a stage production of the insanity that is her life we all would be grabbing a ticket to that train-wreck party. Maybe a Lohan performance would shed some light on why she is such a freaking mess of a person, or at the very least what the hell is wrong with her dad.
Polanski has seemingly been in hiding for years, but the producer/director isn't as hidden away as he appears to be. He has been putting out a movie every other year or so since his "exile" and subsequent release. Why was he exiled again? Oh yeah, because he may or may not have committed statutory rape. This was several years after Polanski's pregnant wife Sharon Tate was murdered by the Manson crew. Suffice it to say the guy has some good fodder for an autobiographical stage production. And he acts sometimes.
I would like to see Joaquin Phoenix on stage playing every member of his family, including himself and his late brother River. This would make the running total of characters seven. The Phoenix family has a pretty nutty story; allegedly they were members of the Children of God cult and fled to escape. Of course, his story would include the rise and heartbreaking fall of River and Joaquin's desperate 9-1-1 call. OK, this performance might be too upsetting, until he got to the rapper part of his life.
Amy and David Sedaris
This technically would not be a one-person show if the bro/sis team performed together, but it would be such a fun undertaking nonetheless. If you have ever seen or heard these two in action, you can vividly picture this production. It basically writes itself, or it's basically already written and called Naked.
Skimming over Brian Williams' personal history offers little in the way of drama. The guy had a presumedly stable childhood, and while he is a college dropout, that does not make for good theater. All-in-all Williams appears to be on the up and up, so why should he take to the stage? If you've ever seen Williams' appearances on any of the various comedy shows he's made a cameo, The Daily Show, Conan or 30 Rock, then you know he is secretly hilarious. A 90-minute Brian Williams live performance where he slow jams his life story would be worth any amount of money Live Nation would charge.