Comedian Mark Lundholm has completed all 12 steps, no mean accomplishment. Thanks to time in detox and countless AA meetings, he has not abused alcohol, drugs, sex, food, or gambling in over a decade. He has entrusted himself to a higher power, expressed regret to those he has wronged, and asked forgiveness for himself. However, in his one-man show, Addicted: A Comedy of Substance, he seems to have relapsed somewhat. Lundholm seems stuck on that fourth step, “Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself.”
While tales of booze-addled folly and monster drug binges are viciously amusing, searching and fearless moral inventories are not. Lundholm makes co-dependents of us all as piquant anecdote (how when he held a gun to an old lady’s head, the old lady disarmed him) slips into heavy-handed confession (“Addicts don’t love themselves,” he explains straight-faced). As he describes his transition from “Ritalin boy” to his current sobriety, no reminiscence goes unanalyzed, no chance for didacticism ignored. Eyes rolling and mouth agape, hands clenching and unclenching, he leaps about the stage explaining away even the most intelligible incidents. The audience laughs—he’s putting great force, if not great flair, into his performance and characterizations—but the laughter wanes as the show continues. Just as the material is overhashed, even Lundholm’s manic gestures start to seem programmatic and over-rehearsed.
Toward the end of the piece, Lundholm stresses that if we don’t like the show, if we don’t rave about it, if we don’t bring 15 friends to see it, he will become so distraught he will shoot heroin into his neck. Apologies, Mark. I think you’d better call your sponsor.