Love and Taxes
The curious thing about monologue artist Josh Kornbluth’s arrival in a Sacramento theatrical venue—performing Love and Taxes at the B Street Theatre—is that it didn’t happen sooner. The Berkeley-based Kornbluth has enjoyed a top-notch reputation in the Bay Area for nearly 15 years. His shows (Red Diaper Baby, Haiku Tunnel, etc.) have earned him a devoted following there, as well as some awesome reviews. Kornbluth even has taken some of his shows to New York and other cities and has worked on cinematic spinoffs.
Simultaneously, over the past 10 years, a steady stream of Bay Area émigrés have settled in this region. Davis and Midtown Sacramento are thick with them. (When I moved to Davis, one neighbor even introduced herself as a “pink diaper baby.”)
You’d think that someone would have figured out before now that this well-documented mass migration likely has created a ready-made audience for Kornbluth. His idiosyncratic humor springs from his reflections on growing up Jewish and intellectual, with radical leftward-leaning parents, and his efforts at coming to terms with America’s consumer society.
Kornbluth is funny—very, very funny, but in a serious way. He gets you laughing early and often, but there’s dramatic meat and a carefully developed dramatic structure integrated through his jokes and storytelling. Love and Taxes—set, appropriately enough, in San Francisco and Berkeley—is exactly what the title implies. It’s a semi-autobiographical story about how Kornbluth’s love life and career were imperiled by his inability to file his tax forms, a problem that went on for years.
In addition to generating comic reverberations from big, familiar targets like the Internal Revenue Service and the Hollywood meat grinder, Kornbluth works some lovely, arcane topics. Who else is going to tell a recurrent subsidiary story about the health hazards of playing the oboe, for God’s sake, and get the whole house giggling?
Kornbluth is also a ball of energy onstage. It’s a quality that’s particularly easy to appreciate in a small venue like the B Street, where Kornbluth fed off the close contact with the audience during last Sunday’s opening performance. He even tossed off little spontaneous remarks to people in the front row.
Love and Taxes is a marvelous, mature piece of humorous theater by a remarkable writer and performer. Welcome to the River City, Josh! Better late than never. We think you’ll find some kindred spirits here.