ED ASNER in New York City: The Prostate Monologues
“Ladies and gentlemen: The Metropolitan Room is proud to present… ‘A Man and His Prostate’. Playing the part of ‘The Man’ tonight– Ed Asner!” (The audience soon learned that the “Prostate” of the play’s title also had an, ahem… “big” role in the show as well– which was exactly “the Man”‘s problem!)
You may expect a one-man play starring showbiz icon Ed Asner to be an autobiographical piece about the actor’s life and decades-spanning career in the entertainment world. After all, the man who played Lou Grant must have some pretty amazing stories to tell (The celebrity name-dropping alone would be worth the price of a ticket!). “A Man and His Prostate” is based on one man’s androgenic adventures, but it’s actually the true story of another Ed: Edwin “Ed.” Weinberger, an multiple award-winning comedy writer and frequent collaborator of Mr. Asner’s for over 40 years. Weinberger became very ill while vacationing in Italy, and he wound up spending seven days in a Florence hospital. The life-changing week included a digital rectal exam, pubic hair shaving, enemas, catheterization, the fear of post-surgical impotence, and sex after 70– all of which the audience gets to hear about in squirmish detail in “A Man and His Prostate”. Are you laughing yet? You will be! This is a seriously funny show based on a serious subject. The new comedy came to New York City’s intimate cabaret hotspot The Metropolitan Room for a two-night stop in January to test the waters before an anticipated worldwide run.
Asner appeared on stage dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts, a backwards baseball cap, white socks, and casual step-in shoes– looking every bit like the stereotypical American grandfather tourist. He opened up with a warning: “To those of you who might find explicit descriptions of a man’s body distasteful– I’m sorry!” We then hear about his character collapsing while vacationing in Italy’s City of Lilies, in front of the Accademia Gallery (where, incidentally, the famously naked Statue of David is housed). Now a patient in a foreign hospital, our poor hero has to pantomime his symptoms to a doctor and staff who don’t speak English. When Asner has to pantomime “waking up to piss eight times during the night”, the play soon transforms into a live sitcom–with the audience serving as a very reliable laugh track. It turns out that “the Man”‘s problem, as you may have guessed by now, is his prostate– now the size of a “fresh caught branzino”. For those in the audience unfamiliar with where this villainous gland is located, we are treated to the male reproductive anatomy projected on a giant screen. (Yes, boys and girls, this is an anatomy lesson as well!). The show now becomes a show-down: “Man Versus Prostate”. Who will emerge triumphant?
“A Man and His Prostate” gives the audience one hilarious “you-just-can’t-make-this-stuff-up” scenario after another. There are some priceless lines from the show that I’d love to repeat, but I won’t. It’s not that I’m concerned about “offending” any readers(!), but more so because I’m convinced that those lines should ONLY be heard from Ed Asner’s 86-year old mouth. In fact, Asner is EXACTLY what makes “A Man and His Prostate” so gut-bustingly funny. His character is a mix of curmudgeonly and cuddly, and his telling of Weinberger’s extended anecdotes about flatulence, urinary retention, and his own… shall we say, “Mr. Ed.” is deliciously deadpan and saucily sardonic. How can you resist hearing the 86-year old star declare, “Of course, as we all know, the difference between ‘erect’ and ‘semi-erect’ is the difference between eating a cheeseburger and licking one!”
Alongside the comedy, “A Man and His Prostate” throws in a serious moment towards the end of the show, concluding with important statistics about prostate cancer as well as tribute to some famous men who have sadly been taken by the disease through the years. The scenario of a digital rectal exam may be a perpetual source of humor for comedians throughout history, but if humor is a good way to get men over 45 to drop trou and bend over for a prostate check, then bring on the jokes! And who better than a transgenerational pop culture icon to tell them?