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Reviews and Appraisals - Tom Shillue's SupernormalBy: Andrew Singer

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Photo: Tom Shillue

Tom Shillue is one of the most comforting comedians I know. Listening to him speak for more than an hour about his childhood antics gives me the same pleasant satisfaction that comes with eating a warm brownie. For native New Englanders like me, Shillue's tales of Massachusetts bring back bittersweet memories of friendship and hardship; for others, I'd imagine they get a glimpse into a foreign land where everyone is cold and harsh on the outside but truly loving once you get to know them.

Shillue's story is about his journey to adulthood, dividing the trip into bite-sized reflections on significant points in time. His details tend toward the confusing, though he'll often say, "Well, let me take a step back," before diving back in and leaving you to wonder how it all ties together.

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One the most veteran standup comedians working today, Shillue's timing is impeccable, and it is the patient listener who gets rewarded once his many threads are woven -- seemingly all at once -- into a masterful tapestry.

Supernormal is all Shillue -- the staging is low-key, and for most of the show, he stands centerstage with general lighting. When he ran into someone important from his past however, stage lights would dim until a single spotlight guided this new character into his life. Shillue effortlessly plays dozens of people, from family members to high school buddies, all of whom are grown and no longer so young and innocent.

After that particular show, Shillue returned for a brief Q&A to get some fresh audience feedback. Some suggested he make the racy parts racier, but I preferred his smoothness in creating a safe environment where you felt like nothing could go wrong. Shillue doesn't need to offend to entertain. I found that everything seemed so normal was the very thing that made his show quite new and shocking.

--Andrew Singer is a contributing editor for The Apiary. He performs regularly as "Soce the Elemental Wizard." He recently interviewed Harrison Greenbaum.

Catch Supernormal MONDAY NIGHTS at The Green Room through May 4 | Tickets
Tom Shillue's Web page
Tom is teaching/coaching a standup comedy class

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