Supernormal Is Ordinary in a Good Way

Nice guy does his nice show.
Joel Barhamand

White, slender, and pleasingly unremarkable, the comedian Tom Shillue looks like a slice of Wonder Bread. In Supernormal, his one-man show at P.S.122, he carb-loads a sympathetic audience with tales of his New England childhood. “My stories tonight, they won’t be remarkable,” he says. “They will be ordinary, but they will be true.” Considering that the most outrageous of his tales concern paper airplanes, alarm clocks, and car sickness, he didn’t have to assure us of their veracity.

Indeed, Shillue narrates a boyhood and adolescence so insular and humdrum that he describes taco night as “a trip to another world” and the few Jewish girls at his high school as exemplars of the exotic. It’s not entirely clear why P.S.122, which typically seeks out more innovative work, would want to program something so unassuming in form and content. But Shillue is an appealing performer—likeable to an almost eerie extent. As he grins goofily and flails his long limbs, he elicits titters, chortles, and the occasional guffaw. Toward the evening’s end, he says, “You want a challenge? Be normal. It’s harder than you think.” But the pleasure of his show is that he makes it look so easy.

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