Jeremy Piven welcomed audiences to the Keswick Theater on Saturday August 14th, their first live show since March of 2020.
Award-winning actor Jeremy Piven welcomed audiences to the Keswick Theater on Saturday August 14th, their first live show since March of 2020.
Upon entering, all were asked to wear masks and it was easy enough to maintain social distance, since the 1,300-seat hall was only about a third full. Most of the audience enjoyed excellent seats in the front and center of the house, with a few added rows of chairs placed just in front of the stage.
One did not envy patrons sitting in those rows during the warm-up act, Pittsburgh comedian Matt Light. He admitted to not liking Philadelphia, misnamed the town of Glenside as “Keswick,” and referred to Philadelphia teams and some of those in the front rows, as losers. Overall, it was a relief when his act was over.
By contrast, Piven entered the stage with a level of comfort, and chose to compliment rather than insult members of the audience. He looked both casual and polished in a white t-shirt under a tailored grey textured jacket, black slim leg pants, and white sneakers with no socks.
Piven, 56, is a solidly built guy of average height, a bundle of potential energy. His performance showcased his ability to control that energy in order to both entertain and start to tell his truths. He joked that when he played high school football “My jersey said linebacker, but my body said kicker.”
About why he wasn’t married, he said, “I always say I am married to my work, and it’s true. It’s just that right now, my work has decided to see other people.”
Piven shared his insecurities, such as his “hair envy” for fellow actors like John Stamos or Alex Baldwin, or his disappointment that women tend to like “bad boys” with pretty faces and then attribute all kinds of qualities to them that they don’t possess.
The audience applauded when he mentioned acting experiences in films like Serendipity or Rush Hour 2, and not just his role in Entourage, for which he is most famous. He was happily surprised by the level of applause for his podcast “How You Livin’ J Piven.”
His set was highlighted by a series of “act outs,” where he told stories and did impressions of other actors such as Sylvester Stallone, Mike Tyson, Jackie Chan, and Chris Tucker.
Piven has a voice that resonates, and as he demonstrated, is the result of training and practice. He often intentionally pulled the microphone away while he was speaking. When he first did this, he put the microphone down and said “Can you hear me in the back?” When the answer was affirmative, he said, “That’s because I took acting classes.”
For most of the audience that night, his interesting observations, self-revelations, and a call to recognize the craft of acting hit their mark.
In 1973, acclaimed acting teacher Uta Hagen wrote a book called “Respect for Acting.” In the epilogue, she wrote that “Humanism is at the root of it. Consistently good acting is never an accident or empty of this purpose. To achieve a technique which will allow for a genuine existence on stage can take a lifetime to accomplish. The search never stops; there are no dead ends.”
It was nice to see an actor who is identifiable from so many iconic roles take the risk to do stand up and tell his own stories in an entertaining way. Bravo Jeremy Piven. After seeing his performances on screen, I wouldn’t have expected anything less.