NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
‘Straight Up’ comic confessional
‘Straight Up With a Twist’
Paul Stroili is and has always been a girly man, not effeminate, but preoccupied with what he calls “the wrong things” – such as the latest fashion and the subtle distinction between flan and creme brulee.
As a teenager, he hid copies of the Wine Spectator alongside issues of Playboy and Penthouse under his mattress. As an adult, he picked out his wife’s wedding gown when she couldn’t select the perfect look.
In his one-man show “Straight Up With a Twist,” Stroili recalls that his shrink described him as having “the aesthetic sensibilities of an arrogant homosexual.” Stroili puts it more simply. He and other happy, healthy heterosexual men who share his plight are “Renaissance geeks.”
And it’s about time they had their say.
After all, everybody else has endlessly commented about Stroili’s queer-eye, straight-guy world view, including his chain-smoking German mother, soft-spoken Italian father, jerky jock brother and flamboyant drama teacher.
Stroili plays all these characters and himself during the 75-minute show.
Despite a few off-color jokes, the tone is tart, self-effacing and affectionate – a good thing, since his mom was in the audience on Saturday night. “She’s not the gargoyle I portrayed her as,” he admitted at the curtain call.
Indeed, a lot of the show does feel exaggerated. The best moments come as quiet little zingers, as when his Dad wryly laments: “I guess I wanted a son who was a boy.”
In the end, “Straight Up” is a funny and likable self-portrait of a boy who grew up to accept the man, warts and thread-count obsessions and all.