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The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway

The secret word is 'fun.'

Rod Lott October 3rd, 2011

I must admit to being just a little disappointed in Paul Reubens' triumphant return as Pee-wee Herman — and on the Great White Way, no less — because I felt as if I had seen it before. In a way, I have, because this hit stage show resurrects many of the same skits and bits from where many of us got our first taste of Pee-wee: his 1981 stage show, which aired on HBO.


"On Broadway" is a mix of that and the Saturday-morning classic "Pee-wee's Playhouse," staged on a near-exact re-creation of that series whacked-out set. Many characters return, both human (Miss Yvonne, The King of Cartoons) and not (Magic Screen, Globey). So do many of the elements, from a "Penny" claymation cartoon to the infamous "Lunchroom Manners" educational short of 1960 (and "Mr. Bungle" infamy).

About the only difference is the addition of more contemporary references in the punchlines (David Beckham, The Situation, "You Got Served," AOL, Viagra and, most memorably, ShamWow), not to mention subtle jokes involving gay marriage and abstinence rings.

Still, what's funny then is funny now, because Reubens commits so admirably to the character. Although the running time is feature-length, the show is too loose in plot to deliver quite the same jolt of satisfaction as a movie (especially since director Marty Callner doesn't always have the timing to match the action), but until that day comes, this'll do.

As Pee-wee repeats many a time, "No worries, same difference, it's all good." —Rod Lott

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