What do lion attacks, football fanatics, muppets, dog pee, and Vladimir Putin have in common? According to CJ in her most recent iteration of The Human Algorithm, they all describe the four basic components of human nature. This popular not-quite stand-up routine returns to the Fringe this year, featuring stories about CJ and her family framed around the idea of exposing the commonalities of all humankind through a formula she calls The Human Algorithm.
CJ is an extremely engaging storyteller with fascinating stories to tell: a season spent volunteering at Iditarod, the time she met the Turkish president, getting stuck in a men’s bathroom in Barcelona. One might think they are reading the script of a blockbuster comedy movie, rather than true-life anecdotes. Her writing is very strong and she keeps the pace moving ahead with a lot of forward momentum. But as a fully cohesive piece, there is something lacking.
Though the show is set-up as a stand-up routine, it doesn’t necessarily function as one as-is. She spends much time spinning her tales, without offering much commentary or observation She is funny by virtue of being a humorous person, but given that she has a strong framing device in her “algorithm”, its connections to the stories are rather tenuous. Strengthening the stories’ connections to the idea of the algorithm will only heighten the comedy.
CJ’s ideas are strong. CJ’s stories and storytelling are strong. If only they had a stronger connection, her piece would be phenomenal.
This isn’t to say that the evening isn’t enjoyable. Her interactions with the audience are quite entertaining, and she invites us all to engage in a level of self-reflection that left us discussing her algorithm on the way out of the theatre and beyond.
Running Time: 75 minutes.
The Human Algorithm plays through Sunday, July 19, 2015 at Dance Place: Hyman M. Perlo Studio at 3225 8th Street NE, in Washington DC. For performance times and to purchase tickets, visit the Capital Fringe page.