Why does Jane Condon do comedy? That’s the overarching theme of her new Off Broadway play, Janie Condon: Raw and Unchained at St. Luke’s Theatre in Manhattan. Directed by Gus Kaikkonen, who brought back Doctor Knock and The Madras House, this comedic performance provides a humorous account of Jane Condon’s life – from growing up the youngest of four in Brockton, Massachusetts to raising two boys in Greenwich, Connecticut with her Republican banker husband.
There is no doubt that Jane Condon is a brilliant storyteller. She was named the New York Audience Favorite on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, an experience she recounts in the beginning of the play, setting the stage for the rest of the performance. It’s clear that becoming a professional comedian didn’t come easy to Jane. She was not voted funniest in high school and she certainly doesn’t look like a typical comedian, wearing business casual attire and a string of pearls around her neck.
In this performance, Jane Condon masterfully engages the audience in a moving personal story. Using old family photos, she details her upbringing in an Irish-Catholic family, her school days among chastising nuns, living (and giving birth) in Japan, moving to Greenwich and becoming addicted to comedy after her first gig at a nursery school fundraiser. She leaves no stone unturned when discussing even the most intimate and poignant topics.
In the end, we learn why Jane really does comedy—her brother Jack and his struggle with mental illness. She couldn’t save him, but she could make him laugh. She enjoys bringing people joy and making them happy, even if just for a few hours.
Her honesty and vulnerability helps her connect with the audience and convey real emotion. Throughout the show, I heard both hysterical laughter and sniffles from audience members. The 85-minute performance flew by and at the end, I felt like I had known Jane my whole life. Although the humor is more appropriate for an older crowd who can relate to Jane’s story, her message is universal—live life to the fullest, follow your dreams, and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself once in a while.
Performances on Monday and Tuesday at 7 p.m. (April 18 and 19, 25 and 26) and on Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m. (April 9 and 10, 16 and 17, 23, 30, and May 1) No show on Easter Sunday April 24th.
St. Luke’s Theater
308 W. 46th Street
New York, NY