It’s hard to describe The Nightman Cometh to somebody who hasn’t seen It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. When you do attempt to describe it, it’s just as hard to explain why you would want to make a special trip to see it on stage. But here goes: it’s a musical episode of a sitcom in which one of the characters, to impress a woman he loves, writes a disturbing Broadway-style rock opera—which appears to be a confusing, symbolism-heavy autobiographical story about being molested as a child, by a “nightman” who is defeated by a “dayman.” (Day Man! Ah-ahhhh! Fighter of the Night Man! Ah-ahhh!)
Make sense? Then you can see why I went to the Beacon Theatre last night to see a live stage show of It’s Always Sunny, and more.
The stage show of “Nightman” (the last episode of season four) was the same kind of appealingly amateurish production that the show itself is. One thing I love about Sunny, which may be a turnoff to others, is that its cast don’t really seem like actors; they come across like funny people who through dumb luck got the chance to make thirteen or so episodes a year for a cable network.
(The exception, I guess, is Danny DeVito, which was why I was so pleasantly surprised at how well he fit in when introduced to the cast. By the way, I’m not big on following celebrity Twitter feeds, but it’s worth it to read @Danny_DeVito’s tweets and imagine them in his voice: “Backstage is wild. Holy shitballs!”)
What Sunny lacks in polish, though, it makes up for in audacity—and volume. Considering that Sunny is basically a sitcom that consists of five people yelling at each other for a half hour, the idea of mic-ing them for a stage seems redundant, and there were times when I thought Charlie Day—with his trademark hysterical screech—was going to blow my eardrums out. But I have to give it to Day: the man knows how to take over a stage, and his closing number—prancing in a golden suit and top hat as he sang his doomed unrequited love for The Waitress—killed.
Always Sunny returns tonight at 10 p.m. E.T. on FX, by the way, and you shouldn’t miss it. I’ve always found the show hit and miss, but when it hits, there’s not much funnier on TV, as the gang pile cockamamie scam on top of disastrous idea and the whole thing ends up in a big amoral snafu. Three of the five new episodes I’ve seen so far (with a new episode screened at last night’s show) are definite keepers, especially the debut episode, “The Gang Exploits the Mortgage Crisis.”
The crew, meanwhile, are headed to Philly tonight for another stop on the Nightman mini-tour. For those of you who can’t get tickets, here’s a taste of what you’re missing: