“Delaware and Other Lies”

Greg Corradini

?2:30 p.m. Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. Sunday

Red Eye Theatre

University lecturer Ari Hoptman sees opportunity in cliche. In his world, a cat is to a hat, as a mouse is to a house, as pious Jews are to cement shoes.

But this stuff isn’t really funny on paper. That’s why we must have Hoptman’s one-man show.

In “Delaware and Other Lies,” Hoptman manages to transform oatmeal ideas and intellectual cinder blocks into nourishing comedy.

Take, for example, a brief film interstitial piece between two longer sets. Barry Manilow’s song “Cocacabana” starts to play. The song’s lyrics, synchronized with the music, flash onto a screen. Then, grammatical explanations pop up in brackets. Lola (subject). Cocacabana (unforgivable sentence fragment).

That’s all it took for the audience to go completely bonkers (the house was full).

Maybe it’s because Hoptman is a wizard of oblique timing.

In other pieces, he stands myopic and slouched at a music stand, delaying audience gratification with belabored storytelling techniques. Then he starts throwing monkey wrenches into the narrative.

One love poem starts, “Your love was blinding, like a thousand suns.” By the time the poem ends, that same love has scorched the narrator’s organs and hair.

A story about a struggling blue-collar worker turns into a homoerotic drama featuring Fred Flintstone and leopard pelts.

The subtle transitions Hoptman executes in an organic way are the show’s gristle.

In “Delaware and Other Lies,” Hoptman isn’t just lying, he’s in his own universe. And everyone in the audience desperately wants to keep step with his off-the-wall academic zaniness.

Who let this oddball teach at the University?