Delusions of Grandeur - Nathan Thomas

Reviewed By Kat Whalen

Fringe Reviewer

In “Delusions of Grandeur," Kansas City-based Nathan Thomas presented an evening of thought-provoking stories, followed by some straight-forward stand-up comedy.

Thomas began by assuming a variety of personas in a self-described attempt to avoid a public mental breakdown. First, Thomas spoke as the sole survivor of what was described as an alien abduction/murder. The only one left alive out of 4 young friends, he begs not to be punished for something—surviving--that was not his fault. Then, as a fitness instructor (and while lifting weights!), he describes a childhood during which he bullied another, but refuses to feel guilty. Why should he in the present feel responsibility for what a past version of himself had done? Later, he is a performer who describes, and sings about, the actions of a neglectful man towards a woman.

In what was the most provocative of the depictions, Thomas portrayed a salesman applying for a job on Zoom. A typical salesman, he describes himself as "morally flexible" and describes in disgusting detail the lengths to which he is willing to go in order to make a sale. But our amused disdain switches abruptly to uncomfortable empathy when he says, almost in passing, why he is willing to go to any length. Only the best comedy causes us to instantaneously exchange easy contempt with uncomfortable understanding, and here it becomes obvious that a major theme of these and his other stories is our varying relationship to personal responsibility.

The final section of the evening featured some less provocative stand-up comedy. The stand-out here was the description of Thomas as the subject of a sermon. Nathan Thomas is a personable and engaging comic with a lot to say. An entertaining and thought-provoking show.

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