New Caveman, Same Old Defense

chrisallennocredithcopyweb.jpgFairness demands this declaration … I Am Man. Hear Me Kvetch.

After all, last week’s column led a review of The D* Word at LVH with “I am woman—hear me kvetch.” Yet Mars and Venus are equally kvetchy when you consider Defending the Caveman at Harrah’s, now with a new Freddy Flintstone-type in the lead role.

As with the four-woman D*, the veteran, one-man Caveman is a modest bauble of a show that its new defender of the male realm, Chris Allen—who recently took over from departed Kevin Burke—handles with similar gender-befuddled aplomb.

With a comedy pedigree highlighted by his training with The Second City, Allen’s got the shambling, average-schlub persona nailed, but stepping into a stereotype isn’t exactly an assignment out of the Actors Studio. Sometimes a new star can shift the direction of a show; other times it’s merely rotating the tires and getting back on the road, the latter being true here.

Entering after a video starring Allen and his wife underlining the usual clichés—she’s obsessed with her clothing closet, he guzzles milk out of the carton, yadda-yadda—he delivers the standard defense against the men-are-assholes mindset. Men think differently. Talk differently. Process feelings differently. Interpret signals differently. And women don’t speak the lingo.

Next are nuggets of behavioral observations: Women are about “cooperation,” men are into “negotiation” (whichever guy loses the excuses game has to get his lazy ass up to refill the snack bowl); women use 5,000 words a day, men only 2,000 (women write long, flowery texts and men respond with “K”); women “have these amazing brains” (female cheers!), but conversely “are not hindered by logic” (male grunts of approval); men have two modes in bed—“getting your weenie touched, and waiting to get your weenie touched.”

With his likable regular dude-liness, Allen makes for a right-on! male mouthpiece, but with an aw-shucks undercurrent that charms the ladies and never offends—just as this mild but entertaining material intends.

Now that The D* Word has sashayed onto its cutesy-whiny turf as its female counterpoint, Defending the Caveman at least seems less lonely as an exercise in obviousness. As pop culture produces more complex gender depictions in such shows as HBO’s Girls, or points up how far we’ve come from the lopsided male-female dynamic of the 1960s in Mad Men, both productions are strangely comforting in their retro-simplistic approach to the eternal guy-gal pull-tug.

Recalling the Paleozoic comedy age—when gay marriage and women in power positions were faraway notions—Defending the Caveman embodies an antique zinger from late comedian Alan King: “You know why women live longer than men? Because they’re not married to women.”

Everybody together now … kvetch.

STRIP POSTSCRIPT: Now that comely, mammary-blessed Pin Up star Claire Sinclair is shedding those pesky garments that obscure her assets—well nearly, at least down to pasties—the Stratosphere show has promoted it by mailing nipple shields to media members. Yes—star-shaped “Nippies” arrived at my desk.

I’ve been testing them at home. … More than that, you don’t want to know.

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