“Turns contemporary stand-up on its head” – yep. I’ve never seen or experienced anything quite like this. The promo continues: “you will never be the same.” Big call. Not quite true, but The Longing Lasts Longer made my brain work overtime. “Thinking is hard people” Penny Arcade said as she implored us to stay with her while she expounded on her unique take of the universe. You will likely be confronted with phrases you’ve never heard, and ideas you’ve never thought about. This is performance art. Intellectual comedy. And it’s been a long time coming.
Initially using New York City, her home of 50 years, as a metaphor for all Western society she tells us how it’s changed. How it has become gentrified and commodified. She tracks through the decades from the 60s onwards with reference to the friendship and work she’s done with famous friends, and then devotes a lot of time explaining how anyone born post 1980 was born into the fog of consumerism. It would be hard for anyone under 35 not to feel targeted, but Penny Arcade is not blaming then. She blames their parents.
Essentially this is a 75 minute monologue on how one intelligent, articulate and entertaining person who dares to take risks, sees the world. It’s all done against a soundtrack of instrumental segments of very familiar tunes from “four decades of pop culture”. Occasionally lyrics are left in so Penny can inject her own commentary into the lyrics as she does with a couple of songs from Van Morrison and it feels like she was rapping with him – to great effect.
How much you enjoy this show is going to depend very much on whether you are prepared to think, really think, and whether or not you agree with her view of the world. I agreed with most of what she was saying – it was revelatory and refreshing – so I loved it. Cherish individuality and authenticity. Never lose your sense of adventure, and above all, love yourself. If you’re listening you may end up loving Ms Penny Arcade.
(Also published on The Clothesline)