Leslie Jordan in
My Trip Down The Pink Carpet
(© Gustavo Monroy)
Leslie Jordan in
My Trip Down The Pink Carpet
(© Gustavo Monroy)
Leslie Jordan has one of those faces you swear have flashed flamboyantly across your TV screen any number of times. And, sure enough, for the last quarter century, he's been stealing scenes in sitcoms, culminating in a 2006 Emmy Award-winning turn as the diminutive millionaire socialite, Beverley Leslie, on Will & Grace. Now Jordan is treading the boards at the Midtown Theater in his autobiographical one-man show My Trip Down the Pink Carpet, a combination stand-up act and rehab confessional that is heavy on jokes but somewhat lacking in depth.

Using a stanchion and velvet rope as amusing multiuse props, Jordan dishes out hilarious memories of growing up gay in the South and as an emerging actor in 1980s Hollywood. (A highlight is his impersonation of himself trying to butch it up as an FBI agent in some long-forgotten TV show.) But they're mostly loosely connected anecdotes that don't really go anywhere. Just when a story starts to get interesting, an old disco classic revs up on the speakers (the sound design is by Wallace Flores), whereupon Jordan takes a dance break and the show experiences a bout of narrative interruptus.

The work is a variation on two different shows that Jordan has toured over the last two decades, Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies That Have Plagued My Life Thus Far and, especially, Like a Dog on Linoleum. Once again, Jordan's theme is that of a hopelessly immature, politically incorrect lover looking for respect. He is, he claims, "a high school cheerleader stuck in a 55-year-old body." And if we didn't get the point, he throws in a few non sequitur facts that we may or may not want to know, for example, that he was in the company of a "cowboy hustler" when he took the call that led to his fateful audition for Will & Grace.

Jordan ends the evening on a moving confessional note, recalling an unexpected gesture of kindness from his cold, detached father one Christmas Eve long, long ago. He clearly wants us to make psychological connections. This is, after all, a story of someone who developed a sharp, protective sense of humor as a defense against pain and rejection.

The problem is, as a writer of autobiographical performance, Jordan is still holding people at arm's length -- not just potential lovers but his audience as well. If he acknowledged this, that realization alone might lead to a more satisfying climax to this trip.