What a Difference an ‘A’ Makes

Written by Maggie Serota on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts.


At the suggestion of his girlfriend, Josh Halloway wrote a semi-scripted show about a very touchy subject, the fact that his Google search results turn up photos of the uber-masculine Josh Holloway, who plays Sawyer on Lost. Oh, what a difference a letter makes.



“I had to pick something up at Lincoln Center, and the receptionist was bummed out,” the comic says. “She thought I was my own assistant.”



While the receptionist was expecting the stubbly personification of an Axe body spray commercial, she was presented with the nebbishy New York intellectual archetype. Her slumped shoulders said it all.



Out of morbid curiosity, and the hopes that the show would just be a shitty Gilligan’s Island remake, Halloway started watching Lost to keep tabs on his unlikely doppelganger. He ended up being legitimately sucked into the show’s serpentine use of flashback and flash-forward, presented in his equally serpentine Bogosian-style monologue; it became a journey of self-discovery in its own right, given the fact that Halloway is the anglicized version of Hurwitz.



From his experiences—which included getting better restaurant reservations—Halloway came up with Lost: How a Certain TV Mega-Hunk Stole My Identity, a hilarious one-man show about mistaken identity, which runs through the end of the month at the Improv Theater.



“The name is about assimilation,” Halloway notes as he runs through the list of famous Jewish icons, such as Archibald Lesch (Cary Grant), Winona Horowitz (Winona Ryder) and the most curious example, Allen Konigsberg (Woody Allen), who anglicized his name only to make a career making movies about the Upper West Side Intellectual Jewish experience.



Of course, the process of assimilation isn’t particular to Jewish actors. The renowned Vaudevillian actor Alfonso Giuseppe Giovanni Roberto D’Abruzzo was shortened to Robert Alda. I think we all know who his son is. Since we’re already using M.A.S.H. as a reference point, Lebanese actor Jameel Joseph Farar became much more palatable to TV audiences as Jamie Farr.



Inserted into the act, which already features a multimedia mix of Google screenshots, is a video clip of an audition piece by actors whose professional lives have been affected by established icons of similar names—a notable one being Peter Sellars (the theater director, not the Pink Panther actor, spelled Sellers).



“I actually flew to London to meet Sellars. I spent a total of 36 hours there, and I didn’t even know how to work the phones.”



Halloway was pleasantly surprised when he found that, despite being an icon in the theater world, Sellars with an ‘A’ was just an affable guy with the same fears and frustrations as Halloway with an ‘A.’



“I like to think of the show as auto-biofictional. It’s rooted in truth because without that kernel of reality, there is nothing to ground the comedy,” Halloway explains, using Curb Your Enthusiasm as a reference point.



Halloway is passive and affable until you mention that you gave Lost a shot and weren’t particularly captivated by it. Then he just becomes straight up evangelical.



“You should get into Lost!”



Come on, dude, aren’t we all already lost?



Through Sept. 26 at The Peoples Improv Theater, 154 W. 29th St. (betw. 6th & 7th Aves.), 212-563-7488; 8, $10.

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