CLO’s ‘Caveman’ hits close to home

The bet here is that after experiencing “Defending the Caveman” with a loved one, it will haunt every little corner of your relationship, so infectious is the comedic monologue about why we have come to believe woman are sensitive and men are — and here I search for a newspaper-friendly synonym — let’s say dolts.

When monologuist and stand-up comic Vince Valentine explained this early in the show at the CLO Cabaret, women and men shook their heads, women in agreement, men in resignation. It wasn’t until Mr. Valentine pointed out that the guys were simply hanging their heads that we all realized how far we’ve come since the good, ol’ caveman days, when men were virile hunters, women were gatherers, and each understood his or her place in the natural order.

The male hunters of old had to be focused and goal-oriented to bring home the bacon. The female gatherers were more detail-oriented, with an ability to seek and find necessities, even in a hostile environment — mother nature’s mall, if you will.

That’s the point of “Defending the Caveman,” the 90-minute monologue by Rob Becker that came to the CLO Cabaret this week. Our behavior is set because, as Lady Gaga might say, we are born this way, with built-in cultural differences. For example, Mr. Valentine tells us, after a couple kiss and make up, a woman will still want to talk about the argument, perhaps for hours. Men want to forgive, forget and watch television.

Again, lots of knowing nods and laughter from the crowd. And one loud, “Yeah, that’s right.”

If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you can’t help seeing something of yourself in “Defending the Caveman.” Although there is some truth in the title, as the show sets out to prove that men are not jerks, there’s no clubbing-over-the-head ideology. It’s rather sweet at times, conciliatory in nature, and often quite funny.

“Caveman” was preceded by a video montage of men and women through thousands of years of evolution. With just a couple of cave paintings, a Flintstone-esque chair and TV set, plus a spear at the ready, the stage was set for Mr. Valentine, the first of four defenders who will play the role here. His expressive eyes and spot-on timing play well with riffs on how gender differences can lead to a battle of the sexes and how understanding can lead to harmony, or as close to it as our differences allow us to get. The show takes an anthropological exploration of everyday situations — a dinner party, a husband-wife dispute, a shopping trip to the mall — and mines laughs by turning the mirror on the audience.
Sometimes, the mirror hit so close to home and the laughter had a nervous hint in it. Most times, heads were bobbing up and down to the sharp observations.

The late great actress Katharine Hepburn said, “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” “Defending the Caveman” suggests celebrating our differences can ease the tension. Oh, and ladies, please, don’t assume all men are dolts.

By Sharon Eberson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette