We saw Avenue Q last night at the Orpheum in San Francisco. I wasn't exactly disappointed because I tried not to have too-high expectations. I like puppets and I was hoping for a few laughs, and that's what I got. It was enjoyable, but I did not find it as hilarious as everyone else in the audience. It was like we were there for Avenue Q Fan Club Night, and everyone else had seen the play a million times or new someone in the play or associated with the play. There was lots of pre-laughter for upcoming jokes that turned out to be not that funny. I just got the feeling there were lots of inside jokes and we weren't part of the club.
As I told Mike during the intermission, the humor was so obvious. It wasn't particularly witty or clever. It was like, "Let's have puppets talk about porn! Because they're puppets! So we're, like, breaking stereotypes about puppets or something!" If they had gone any edgier with their humor then they might not have won a zillion Tony awards and gained mainstream appeal. Instead, they made characters relatable to a theater-going crowd, like the idealistic English major who has visions of greatness but can't find a job. "Ha, ha, that puppet's just like me and all my friends!" Dare I say that I was too old for this show?
After enjoying the likes of Team America World Police, Crank Yankers, Wonder Showzen, and even Vomiting Kermit on the Conan O'Brien show, I found the Avenue Q peeps to be pretty tame. I guess I've done some hardcore puppet-viewing that's desensitized me. Still, it's not a kids' show. There are plenty of "adult situations."
Performance-wise, the puppetry was very good. The actors really acted through their puppets. And Kelli Sawyer, who played Kate Monster and Lucy, has an amazing singing voice. The craftsmanship of the puppets and sets is what really pulled me through.