×

Heavy Breathing

Scott Carter, comedian and executive producer of ABC's "Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher," crafts a gentle, gripping evening of autobiographical monologues about his stint as a writer of pornographic prose and his bouts with severe asthma. Carter's sensibility is clearly that of a writer rather than performer, which gives the show its refreshing candor and literary flair. He does not act out the events of his life, but relates them with the elegance of a skilled storyteller, carefully choosing his phrases, metaphors and allusions. His wit is suitably dry, as in the caption he wrote under the picture of a naked woman in a particularly compromising pose --- "Erica's favorite philosophers used to be Hume, Kant and Locke, but now she thinks they can't hold a candle to Plato." Or he takes great delight in reading the hilariously rough translation of American pornographic slang in a German soft-core magazine. While Carter had dreamed of being a successful New York playwright lured to Los Angeles by vast riches, he finds himself instead churning out purple, passionate prose in a porn factory. But from the experience, Carter gains what he calls "an abiding tolerance for humanity," concluding that "people don't choose their fetishes, their fetishes choose them." Although his adventures in pornland are cleverly related and often quite funny, Carter's struggles with life-threatening asthma, which he relates in the second half of the evening, are much more riveting. With brief flashes of humor, Carter describes the sensation of suffocating in slow-motion as he desperately tries to get to the telephone or is rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Most powerful, however, are Carter's experiences after he receives a reprieve from death. His euphoria, which lasts for several weeks, is marked by loving phone calls to his friends and family, and a wondrous appreciation of life. The euphoria is marred only by his nagging doubts about the existence of God, or any higher power that could bring meaning to the meaninglessness of his recovery. In the end, Carter settles for a more secular sense of wonder and appreciation for all that lies beyond --- the occasional "holidays" that relieve the burden of the "everydays." It is in the latter half of the show that Carter shines as an eloquent storyteller, in which the power of his tale and the craft of the telling merge into a strong theatrical experience. While neither powerfully moving nor achingly funny, Carter's work nevertheless has great strength of character, considerable skill of craft and a genuine honesty than shines past any traditional standard of performance.Directed by Jim Fyfe. Opened and reviewed Sept. 19, 1997. Runs through Oct. 19. Running time: 1 hour, 45 min.

With:
Cast: Scott Carter

Scott Carter, comedian and executive producer of ABC’s “Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher,” crafts a gentle, gripping evening of autobiographical monologues about his stint as a writer of pornographic prose and his bouts with severe asthma. Carter’s sensibility is clearly that of a writer rather than performer, which gives the show its refreshing candor and literary flair. He does not act out the events of his life, but relates them with the elegance of a skilled storyteller, carefully choosing his phrases, metaphors and allusions. His wit is suitably dry, as in the caption he wrote under the picture of a naked woman in a particularly compromising pose — “Erica’s favorite philosophers used to be Hume, Kant and Locke, but now she thinks they can’t hold a candle to Plato.” Or he takes great delight in reading the hilariously rough translation of American pornographic slang in a German soft-core magazine. While Carter had dreamed of being a successful New York playwright lured to Los Angeles by vast riches, he finds himself instead churning out purple, passionate prose in a porn factory. But from the experience, Carter gains what he calls “an abiding tolerance for humanity,” concluding that “people don’t choose their fetishes, their fetishes choose them.” Although his adventures in pornland are cleverly related and often quite funny, Carter’s struggles with life-threatening asthma, which he relates in the second half of the evening, are much more riveting. With brief flashes of humor, Carter describes the sensation of suffocating in slow-motion as he desperately tries to get to the telephone or is rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Most powerful, however, are Carter’s experiences after he receives a reprieve from death. His euphoria, which lasts for several weeks, is marked by loving phone calls to his friends and family, and a wondrous appreciation of life. The euphoria is marred only by his nagging doubts about the existence of God, or any higher power that could bring meaning to the meaninglessness of his recovery. In the end, Carter settles for a more secular sense of wonder and appreciation for all that lies beyond — the occasional “holidays” that relieve the burden of the “everydays.” It is in the latter half of the show that Carter shines as an eloquent storyteller, in which the power of his tale and the craft of the telling merge into a strong theatrical experience. While neither powerfully moving nor achingly funny, Carter’s work nevertheless has great strength of character, considerable skill of craft and a genuine honesty than shines past any traditional standard of performance.Directed by Jim Fyfe. Opened and reviewed Sept. 19, 1997. Runs through Oct. 19. Running time: 1 hour, 45 min.

Cast: Scott Carter

Popular on Variety

Heavy Breathing

(Theater at the Improv; 62 seats; $ 15 top)

Production: The Operating Theater presents a one-person show in two acts written by Scott Carter.

Cast: Cast: Scott Carter

More Legit

  • David-Alan-Grier-Blair-Underwood

    David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood to Star in 'A Soldier's Play' on Broadway

    David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood will star in a Broadway production of Pulitzer-Prize winning drama “A Soldier’s Play.” The play, written by Charles Fuller, is set in 1944 and follows a murder mystery centered around the death of black Sergeant Vernon C. Waters (played by Grier) who is found on a Louisiana army base. [...]

  • The Inheritance review

    'The Inheritance' Announces Broadway Cast

    After an Olivier-winning run in London, “The Inheritance” is gearing up for its Broadway debut. The two-part epic has set the cast for its transfer from the West End to the Great White Way. John Benjamin Hickey, Paul Hilton, Samuel H. Levine, Andrew Burnap and Kyle Soller are among the cast members reprising their roles [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Announces 2020 National Tour

    ‘Hadestown’, the eight-time Tony award winning Broadway musical, is set for a national tour in 2020. The show will stop in more than 30 cities including Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and more. The musical is a stage adaptation of the Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice and King Hades and his wife [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Listen: Why Jake Gyllenhaal Is His 'Best Self' in the Theater

    Looking for the best possible version of Jake Gyllenhaal? You’ll find it onstage, according to the actor himself. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “I am my best self when I’m working in the theater,” Gyllenhaal said on the latest episode Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast, on which he appeared with Carrie Cracknell, the director of [...]

  • Photo: Jeremy Daniel

    'The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical' Gets Broadway Run

    “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” is Broadway bound. The musical adaptation of the franchise about a teenager who discovers he’s the son of Poseidon hits the Great White Way on Sept. 20 ahead of an Oct. 16 opening night. It comes on the heels of an extensive, nationwide tour that took the show [...]

  • Tom Sturridge Jake Gyllenhaal

    Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge Celebrate 'Sea Wall/A Life' With Star-Studded Opening Night

    A star-studded audience looked on as Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge returned to the stage for their double monologue performance in “Sea Wall/A Life.” Theater-goers and celebs including Anne Hathaway, Tom Hiddleston and John Mulaney gathered in Manhattan’s Hudson Theatre for opening night, celebrating a show tackling grief, birth and death through the eyes of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content