You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Oh, Hello’ Brings Comedy Crowd to Broadway

Oh, Hello on Broadway” doesn’t look much like most shows on Broadway at the moment — and neither does its audience.

That’s a headturner on Broadway, where the prime demo has long been middle-aged women. The younger-skewing male tickeybuyer represents something of a holy grail for much of the Street — but “Oh, Hello” suggests that it’s an audience that’s within reach for the right show.

The property already had a profile with that younger male demo, thanks to a running series of skits in which comics Nick Kroll and John Mulaney established the characters of Upper West Side altacockers Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland (and their signature prank, “Too Much Tuna”). Live engagements around the country (including a buzzy Off Broadway run) showed crowds would turn out in person for the show, too.

The challenge lay in getting them to show up for Broadway, where the usual marketing spends don’t typically overlap with the media habits of young, digital-savvy millennials. “A full page ad in the New York Times didn’t make any sense for our show,” said Marcia Goldberg, who produced “Oh, Hello” on Broadway with Patrick Catullo (“Fully Committed”).

So the production announcement came not through the usual outlets favored by theater avids, but on Facebook Live in partnership with Funny or Die. The online appearance was supposed to last ten minutes, but it stretched to 40 — and it worked.

“We sold more than $250,000 in tickets in 48 hours, and we spent about $300,” said Catullo.

Erin Daigle, the associate director of digital media and analytics at Broadway ad agency Serino Coyne, reports that after that first announcement, 80% of visitors to the show’s website were men below the age of 34. And whereas most Broadway shows see sales spikes after appearances on morning shows like “Good Morning America” and “CBS Sunday Morning,” “Oh, Hello” got its big boost in traffic from a September stop at “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

At the box office, lower-price balcony seats tended to go first, with seats in the mezzanine and the orchestra filling in later, according to show’s the producers. That’s the opposite of the traditional buying pattern, which sees core Broadway fans snatch up orchestra locations first before audiences spread up to the mezz.

After the show’s Oct. 10 opening, most of the city’s theater critics gave the show a thumbs-up, which piqued the interest of the traditional theatergoing demo — led by middle-aged women, who make the majority of Broadway purchasing decisions.

Even so, it remains to be seen whether the $2.9 million staging of “Oh, Hello” will make any money. The show’s weekly grosses topped $600,000 on Thanksgiving week, and over the last several weeks have rung in at more than $500,000. With the production scheduled to close Jan. 22, recoupment is a definite possibility, producers says, but not a certainty.

They aim to keep the momentum going with digital ad buys with outlets that cater to cord-cutting millennials, like Comedy Central and Hulu. The show also gets booster-shots of promotion with online videos (sometimes released through outlets like Funny or Die and Vulture) of the celebrity guests who turn up for the show’s nightly “Too Much Tuna” segment. Among recent visitors: Chris Pratt, Cara Delevingne and Stephen Colbert.



Popular on Variety

More Legit

  • Broadway Review: David Byrne's 'American Utopia'

    Broadway Review: David Byrne's 'American Utopia'

    One constant of David Byrne’s long and prolific career is his ability to grow a seemingly simple idea into something brilliant, whether it’s the melody of “Road to Nowhere” or the concept of the “Stop Making Sense” tour some 36 years ago, where the premise of bringing out nine musicians, one at a time per [...]

  • The Sound Inside review

    Broadway Review: 'The Sound Inside' Starring Mary-Louise Parker

    Mary-Louise Parker will take your breath away with her deeply felt and sensitively drawn portrait of a tenured Yale professor who treasures great literature, but has made no room in her life for someone to share that love with. The other thesp in this two-hander is Will Hochman, endearing in the supportive role of a [...]

  • Little Shop of Horrors review

    Off Broadway Review: 'Little Shop of Horrors'

    With its strains of kitschy doo-wop and its sci-fi B-movie inspirations, the quaint 1982 musical “Little Shop of Horrors” hardly seems a thing of modern-day revivalism, even despite its touches of S&M. Yet this year alone, not only is there an Off Broadway production of the blackly comic “Little Shop” featuring Jonathan Groff of Netflix’s [...]

  • The Lightning Thief review musical

    Broadway Review: 'The Lightning Thief,' The Musical

    “It’s a lot to take in right now,” says Percy Jackson, the teen hero of “The Lightning Thief,” the kid-centric fantasy musical (based on the popular Y.A. novel) that’s now on Broadway after touring the country and playing an Off Broadway run. You could say that’s a bit of an understatement from contemporary teen Percy [...]

  • The Rose Tattoo review

    Broadway Review: 'The Rose Tattoo' Starring Marisa Tomei

    “The Rose Tattoo” is what happens when a poet writes a comedy — something strange, but kind of lovely. The same might be said of director Trip Cullman’s production: Strange, if not exactly lovely. Even Marisa Tomei, so physically delicate and expressively refined, seems an odd choice to play the lusty and passionate protagonist, Serafina [...]

  • Obit-Roy-B

    Former NATO President Roy B. White Dies at 93

    Roy B. White, former president and chairman of the National Association of Theater Owners, died of natural causes Oct. 11 in Naples, Fla. He was 93. White ran the 100-screen independent theater circuit, Mid–States Theaters Inc. In addition to his career, he did extensive work on behalf of charities and non-profits. He was vice president [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content