The Las Vegas Strip is known for being the home to a plethora of shows, which sometimes makes me stop and wonder how certain performances survive. Am I the oddball out with the bizarre sense of humor, or is it just blind luck that these poor performances thrive? Recently, I had the major displeasure of sitting through a one man act at Harrahs, and from watching this show I deduced that I was, indeed, the odd man out. “Defending the Caveman” was a one man pseudo-lecture that focused on the perils of being a man, how women should deal with men, and why men do the things they do. In short, “Defending the Caveman” was a heavily clichéd mess that touched on every concept of the “modern relationship” that shows like “Everybody Loves Raymond” have previously beaten to death.
To be fair, the fault of the show cannot fall onto the performer. Kevin Burke ripped through the play with a finesse and fervor that really made me want to dive right in with him, but unfortunately, the subject matter is so completely outdated and tired that there’s no lifeline left to hold onto. “Defending the Caveman” was written by comedian and actor Rob Becker back in the early 1990’s, which accounts for the sorely outdated material. The start of the monologue takes the audience on a journey through the life of the modern couple as the woman, essentially, does everything she can not to strangle the man she’s with. Here, the tone is set.
While Kevin Burke progresses through Becker’s script, he is meant to defend men and their “simplistic” ways of doing things. He explains why men tune through television channels, why they shop, and why they communicate the way they do. Essentially, it’s an entire play about why men are apparently the most obnoxious creatures on the planet to live with. The show is meant to defend the concept of the caveman, but all it winds up doing is setting men back.
The show delves into stereotypes that were popular in the early to mid-1990’s and bases itself off of the concept that men are the “hunters” of the relationship, hence the allusion to the caveman. It doesn’t come off as clever or fun in any means; but rather seemingly insulting in many ways. “Defending the Caveman” portrays men as simple minded creatures due to the very focused role of their ancestral cousin, the caveman.
By the end of the show, nothing seems resolved. Women may get a better understanding as to what stereotypes to look for when they get home after the show, but there is no resolution to the actual problem. Women won’t learn to respect their man’s faults and men, whom still act like the apparent Neanderthals that they were painted as, certainly won’t learn to develop their more social skills. All in all, “Defending the Caveman” does the exact opposite it aims to do. Than again, I and my wife were amongst the few people not laughing in the theater, so I very well be in the minority.