Review by Ramona Pula

James-Judd“A Minor Mid-Career Retrospective” opening 7-22-15, MITF 16

Writer: James Judd
Director: Maddie Saidenburg
Starring: James Judd

Davenport Theatre, Black Box, 354 W. 45th Street (between 8th & 9th Avenues)
16th Annual Midtown International Theatre Festival
Remaining Performances: Fri 7/24, 8:00 pm; Sat 7/25, 4:00 pm
Running Time: 45 minutes

To sum up James Judd’s one-man show “A Minor Mid-Career Retrospective” in one word, I say, “Fabulous!”

I loved this show. Mr. Judd is a seasoned performer and extremely funny. According to comedian and teacher Michael Delaney, “In comedy, it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it that matters” – and Mr. Judd sure knows how to say it. His humorous personality shines through his performance.

James Judd displays comedy style in spades. He has excellent timing and is a natural ad-libber, which makes me think he must also be a wonderful improviser. He deals with situations in the moment as they happen; for example, when three audience members entered a minute after he’d started, he dealt with it in marvelous fashion by rewinding to the beginning, complimenting the lighting technician along the way for not missing a beat and for repeating the cues accurately.

The lighting, by the way, is terrific in design and execution. Direction by Maddie Saidenburg is on point.

Mr. Judd tells the audience stories from his life. They will be different for each performance at MITF 16, which makes me want to go again. Tonight’s offerings were “F**k You, Patty Lupone”, which included a funny description of a gay cruise, and “The Defense Rests”, in which the consummate storyteller regaled us with a tale of an early experience he had after he’d moved from LA to New Hampshire to attend law school. His mimicry of his first-ever client is hilarious.

My only criticism of this show is that it was too short. I would have loved to have heard a third story. The air conditioning in the Davenport Theatre Black Box is minimal, and I had to wonder if the heat from the lights onstage, not to mention the absence of water, contributed to the performer’s early departure. In the program, the running time is listed as 45 minutes, and I clocked it at 34 minutes. The show was well worth seeing regardless, and leaving the audience wanting more is something for which every performer strives.

Attend this show if you like to laugh! James Judd is a favorite on NPR’s “Snap Judgment” and, if you see “A Minor Mid-Career Retrospective”, you’ll understand why.