I Am Google (2012)

comedy · kingswell productions / combined artform · Ages 12+ · United States

one person show
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June 19, 2012 certified reviewer

My overall impression

RICHARD ADAMS, The World Socialist Website

Now and then a show comes along that changes the way we look at the world – in this case the online world we all increasingly spend so much time in. Craig Ricci Shaynak turns a premise that, in lesser hands and under the sway of a less manic mind, might provide a stand-up comic a few sharp observations, into a very full full-hour comedy. That premise? What if Google were a real person, in this case, a big, pizza-fueled obsessive researcher in a sweat-soaked t-shirt who hasn’t been out of his lair – or even taken a walk! – since 1998? He’s even got a genealogy: his great-great-grandfather was the Oxford English Dictionary and his French great-grandmother was named Roget. His hyper brother is Yahoo. I gather that Compuserve is also an ancestor.

Google has feelings; he’s (mostly) patient but as opinionated as any worker about management, his peers, and his rivals. He’s also nursing a broken heart: he just broke up with Twitter, who’s now taken up with that promiscuous gadabout, Facebook. Google’s warren is cluttered with junk: a can of spam, a box of cookies (that he shares with everyone who enters – so he can find us), emails as retro letters from our scamming pals in Nigeria, promotional gift bags (for “Google Ad Time”), stacks of reference books, and two dinosaurs from the analog age – rotary phones.

Google offers cutting commentary on his snooty cousin Bing, My Space, AOL, Apple, Chrome, and even Google-Plus with its “tens of subscribers.” His bits on YouTube cats and Google Maps are a riot.

Constantly interrupted by queries, Google looks up info, delivering answers to math questions, conversions, translations, regionalized advertisements (in their appropriate accents), and referrals to Wikipedia. After a particularly egregious error of fact from Wiki (Who knew Robespierre was a French painter?), Google threatens to demote Wiki from its prized first search position (Wiki’s making him look bad!).

There were moments when the crazed chameleon that is Shaynak’s Google seemed to channel Jonathan Winters. While the make-shift set necessitated by the turn-over restrictions of the Fringe is more than adequate, one can easily imagine Google living and working 24/7 in a steam-punk world designed by Terry Gilliam.

But there’s also a message within all this manic madness: a humane plea for us to set aside our devices and actually connect as real live human beings, and maybe, just maybe, have a real conversation or even just pick up a book.

Fast-paced, interactive, smart and wildly funny, Shaynak opens a link into a funhouse world whose mirrors reveal the distorted ways in which we’ve begun to see ourselves and others. I am Google should not be missed.

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