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August 21, 2013

Comedy: Raanan Hershberg wears his 3-D glasses at night

Raanan Hershberg is the ringleader of the “Young, Dumb & Full of Comedy” show, as well as the mastermind behind the running “Roast” series that has ravaged such pillars of modern society as Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln and the Wizard of Oz. But this week, Raanan will debut his second one-man show, “Crying Behind 3-D Glasses,” a hilarious look back on the movies, television and books he grew up with. Topics of discussion range from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze” to “Jurassic Park” and even The Bible. He took time to call in from the road in Asheville, N.C., where he was performing at a comedy festival.

LEO: Where did the idea for this show come from?
Raanan Hershberg: For me, “Jurassic Park” was the greatest experience of my life when I saw it when I was 8 in theaters. So I was really excited when “Jurassic Park 3-D” came out, to re-live the greatest experience of when I was a kid. And then I saw it, and I felt myself almost bored watching it. It didn’t hold up. It was this movie I loved as a kid, and I’m watching it again and kind of making fun of it in my head.

LEO: “Jurassic Park” was the genesis of the show?
RH: Yeah, after that I re-watched all these movies, books and TV I loved as a kid to see if any of them held up. The show is looking at these things with the perspective of a 30-year-old man, as opposed to an 8-year-old who loved them blindly.

LEO: There seems to be an existential question in there somewhere.
RH: Are you now too bitter and cynical to love the things you loved as a kid? Or were the things you loved as a kid shit to begin with? That is ultimately the question at the heart of this show.

LEO: So did anything hold up?
RH: I did actually find something that held up, but I don’t wanna tell … it’s kind of the M. Night Shyamalan surprise twist at the end of the show. Sorry, M. Night Shyamalan is a shitty, antiquated comparison.

LEO: Did it make you re-assess the genius of Steven Spielberg?
RH: I still think a lot of Spielberg movies hold up, like “Jaws.” I see a lot of his stuff and still recognize them as great movies. The problem with “Jurassic Park” is that there are no good characters, it’s really manipulative — everyone is dressed to be the action figure they already knew they were going to sell you. But “Jurassic Park” is only the cornerstone. I talk about a lot of other things throughout the show.

LEO: How is a one-man show different than stand-up?
RH: I think it’s really just a matter of how everything is linked to an overall theme. In stand-up, your jokes aren’t connected in any real way, you just have to figure out a conversational transition. But here there is a theme and, at least, an existential link.

LEO: Do you prefer one-man shows over stand-up?
RH: I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. I started out as a playwright and writing screenplays, not doing comedy, so doing something with a bigger, more organic theme has always been interesting to me.