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Yeah, But Not Right Now

Theatre Review by James Wilson - September 24, 2021

A.J. Holmes
Photo by Arin Sang-urai
When A.J. Holmes takes the stage in his solo show Yeah, But Not Right Now wearing a silk bathrobe and jeans and riffs about procrastination, he could be regarded as the ultimate, chillest slacker dude. By the end of the evening, though, audience members might have a different impression. With good reason, some may well agree with him that he is indeed the biggest jerk—he uses a blunter, less family-friendly descriptor that begins with "A" and ends in "hole"—in the universe.

Directed by Caitlin Cook, the show combines autobiographical vignettes, original songs, and stand-up comedy. Holmes, who is also the writer and composer, is alternately pompous and self-deprecating as he recounts his carefree, musical-like experiences growing up in Southern California to the heady, decadent exploits as a star in a hit musical. Most notably, he has played Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon on Broadway, in the West End, and on tour, and in a case of life-imitating-art-imitating-life, that character's superciliousness emerges in this performance as well.

Holmes is a supremely gifted musician, and the handful of songs are tuneful and adroit. He moves effortlessly with appropriate show-offiness among several different instruments, including the keyboard, guitar, and a variety of percussion instruments. Additionally, with the assistance of cutting-edge technology (designed by Craig Bundy), he is able to create a polyvocal chorus with his own voice, producing the sense of a musical theatre ensemble. In the musical finale, Holmes reprises snippets from the production's songs, and the dazzling effect is akin to a one-person megamix.

In his self-professed yearning for audience validation, Holmes is at first ingratiating, but the glib neediness grows tiring over the course of the evening. One of the most memorable songs, "I Can Be That Guy," sums up his desire to please and conform to expectations. Yet, in his craving for laughs, he can be intensely off-putting. This is especially evident in a bit about his mother, who he says has substituted her sexual fulfillment with Facebook. In the crassest possible manner, he asks for someone to tryst with her since his father seems unable to provide the necessary gratification.

As is pretty typical of a confessional solo show, Holmes relates tales of his moral descent after achieving professional heights. Describing relationship infidelities, transactional sexual encounters, and one-night stands, he simultaneously seeks the audience's explicit acknowledgment of and absolution for his baseness. However, because he has proudly reveled in his—as he explains—"white, cisgender, male privilege," it is difficult to feel one way or the other. The comparative banality of the story made me recall a previous one-person show that played the same theatre and which also plumbed the depths of betrayal and sexual debauchery: Fleabag. Conversely, Phoebe Waller-Bridge's character provoked passionate responses without having to verbally coax them from the audience.

Performances of Yeah, But Not Right Now begin with a warm-up act, and the night I saw the show Marcia Belsky was the opener. Belsky performed a few original songs, including "100 Tampons," which was a viral sensation on TikTok last year. The song focuses on the historical fact that a biologically-clueless NASA offered the first American woman astronaut, Sally Ride, 100 tampons for her trip to space. The flight was just six days. Belsky's dry humor, sardonic wit, and playful rapport set the tone nicely for the headline attraction.

Yeah, But Not Right Now is certainly not without its pleasures, but it makes one wish that A.J. Holmes, who legally changed his first name to Broadway, would stick to what he does best, musical theatre, and leave the stand-up to someone else.

Yeah, But Not Right Now
Through October 17, 2021
SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street, New York City
Tickets online and current performance schedule at