Diminutive comic Leslie Jordan has beaten the jokers at “Celebrity Autobiography” to the punch — he’s reading aloud the most embarrassing sections from his 2008 autobio “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet” (also the title of his solo show) himself. Presented by Lily Tomlin and her partner, playwright Jane Wagner, the routine is frequently endearing but not terribly substantive, offering the theatrical equivalent of wide margins and a large typefont. Regardless, Jordan is consistently affable and charming, and the lengths to which he’s willing to go for chuckles are occasionally breathtaking.“I’m sweating like a pedophile in a Barney costume,” says the Tennessee native, fanning himself with one hand like the Southern belle he’s so adept at imitating. Jordan, best known as catty Beverly Leslie on sitcom “Will and Grace,” is recounting yet another one of his showbiz anecdotes, several of which have great punchlines. It’s possible to get turned off by the gossipy tone, though, especially when Jordan achieves the evening’s most effective moments by dropping his shtick, however briefly. When the actor recalls standing before an aud of straight AA members and confessing that he’s terrified of them, he loses all his affectations for just a moment, and allows himself to look old and haggard and afraid. This (and other few too-brief periods of vulnerability) threaten to give Jordan’s show some real weight, but the script is a little too disorganized to be anything more than a fun evening at the theater. That doesn’t seem to be what the performer wants — Jordan says a few times that he hopes his trials and tribulations will be an education for people who feel as alone as he did as they come to terms with their gay identities. There aren’t quite enough personal moments in the show to achieve that purpose, though there’s plenty to make the aud chuckle. Jordan’s high-voiced impersonation of a cheerleader (adopted for the benefit of the pervy adult who used to crank-call his classmates) is among the highlights. The show may not change anybody’s life, but it should fill seats nicely.
Midtown Theater; 99 seats; $55 top
A Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner presentation of a solo show in one act by Leslie Jordan. Bruce Robert Harris, Jack W. Batman, Dennis Grimaldi, Jean McFaddin-Susan Falk, Daniel Wallace and D. Michael Dvorchak, Jim McLaughlin, producers. Directed by David Galligan.
Set, Michael J. Hotopp; lighting, Jesse Belsky; sound, Wallace Flores; production stage manager, Andrea Wales. Opened April 19, 2010; reviewed April 17. Running time: 1 HOUR, 45 MIN.
With: Leslie Jordan.