by Stephen Cedars · August 22, 2015
Early on in his one-man show The Broccoli Murder…, retired NYC police detective turned comedian and performer Mark DeMayo shares his love of Hawaii Five-0 – the detectives there got to wear shorts to work! – but then clarifies that for anyone who ever dreams of law enforcement, there’s only one place to be: New York City.
Indeed, for the entirety of his 80 minute collection of comic vignettes, DeMayo expresses nothing if not excitement for the job that defined both his career and worldview. Though his career was not defined by many high-stakes TV-worthy crime stories, he remains equally amused and bemused by the absurdities and realities of dealing with criminals who are more buffoons than masterminds but who have provided him with stories he clearly hasn’t tired of telling. And what’s most marvelous about the show is that this energy and excitement is infectious – my audience laughed right away with the opening sounds of the Law and Order theme song and didn’t stop for at least half the show’s run-time – largely thanks to DeMayo’s unbreakable smile, which seems to always suggest a secret he’ll parcel out if he feels like it, and the air of authenticity he brings to his anecdotes despite (or perhaps precisely because) of their often quotidian nature.
If it seems that I’m avoiding any details of the titular stories, that’s because these aren’t the type of tales that warrant Wikipedia pages. DeMayo’s open about the lack of excitement his cases usually produced, and his more serious-toned stories are hardly exceptional in their detail. What matters is how fully DeMayo invests them with an air of “can you believe this happened to me?” gusto. He’s a big dude costumed as he might have been on a case, which only enhances the contrast between his authentic half-Dominican Astoria-raised persona with what’s essentially a stand-up special. He’s not a natural comedian – sections that remind you of a stand-up set (the transitions between beats, milked premises, etc.) tend to stick out more awkwardly than what surrounds them – but that same deficit is what makes the heart of his stories so compelling, and what makes this one of the most entertaining and fulfilling one-man shows I’ve ever seen.