Breaking Bad is one of the greatest television shows of all time; a true juggernaut that increased in stature with every season, and increased in viewership with seemingly every episode. Walter’s growth, and simultaneous decay - alongside a wealth of excellently envisioned characters and narrative arcs – in his venture into the crystal meth business, was documented in such a manner that young, old, critic, and public alike could enjoy it. The TV show itself is remarkable, but not overly humorous; thus the decision to build an hour long comedy act about the show is questionable, but undeniably benefits from its source material’s devoted fanbase.
The comedy act operates simply: one man, five seasons, 60 minutes. LA actor, Miles Allen, marketed the show with a clever viral technique. Uploading himself on Youtube as a homeless man doing impressions, he quickly demonstrated his chops for impersonating many of the show’s lead characters. It isn’t easy though, to turn a talent into an hour long gig. However, the act rides off the success of the show, following the narrative fairly closely, while covering every major plot point.
Note, this show is not aimed at those who haven’t seen the original TV show, and especially not for those who intend to see it - it contains ‘approximately 375 spoilers’ as Allen puts it. He even asked those in the crowd who have yet to see it, “Why are you here?” He was right, his act contains an abundance of references and nuances that only viewers could appreciate, and fully understand. One Man Breaking Bad, in layman’s terms, is fan service. Jesse Pinkman, the most well-liked member of the show, narrates the performance, providing his characteristic ‘charm’ at every moment.
His impersonations are largely excellent, with Walt Jr. (“You’re all terrible people”, he tells us, through a loud roar of laughter), and Jesse serving as highlights. His impersonations of Walter, Hank, Hector, and Gus too gathered both applause and laughter from the audience. His treatment of Skylar could be the most divisive; for those unfamiliar to the show, Walter’s wife, Skylar, is the only major female character on the show. However, for those familiar to the show, she’s arguably also the most hated. Allen clearly agrees, referring to her as a ‘bitch mom/wife’ at every opportunity, to generally rapturous reception.
Despite plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, there were lulls. Allen chose to incorporate a number of musical numbers, with the majority failing to impress, but thankfully, never lasting too long. His interactions with the crowd also seemed a bit unnecessary, with half the crowd unwilling to partake (in my one-off experience).
However, don’t let this deter you. It was a memorable show, and highly recommended for any Breaking ‘Baddicts’, as Allen calls himself. His impersonations are well worth the time alone, and if you’ve seen the show, there are a number of guaranteed laughs (likely from Walt Jr.). If anything, it’ll probably just want to make you rewatch the entire series – I’m fine with that.
One Man Breaking Bad - The Unauthorised Parody
Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre
4th May - 9th May
NZ International Comedy Festival