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'Less Lonely' review — comedian Jes Tom punches through loneliness

Read our four-star review of Less Lonely, written and performed by Jes Tom and presented by Elliot Page, at the Greenwich House Theater through January 6.

Caroline Cao
Caroline Cao

During one moment in the comedy show Less Lonely, I felt an OMG-level chill rippling across the room when writer/performer Jes Tom arches over and pantomimes dangling a semen-filled condom. In this act, they’re impersonating an — wait for it — “improv guy” they once slept with. This theatrical pose gives rise to one of the most potent laughs in the show. It’s a burst of comic physicality in a largely solid show that has the opportunity to expand.

With stories about growing up as a Japanese Chinese American Girl Scout in their “boring” queer-supportive San Francisco neighborhood, taking the testosterone that lead to their “transition from lesbianism to faggotry,” and the devastating loss of a loved one, Less Lonely (directed by Em Weinstein and presented by movie star Elliot Page) is told with a heart as big as the blushingly valentine-red scenic design by Claire Deliso and lit by Jennifer Fok. A solitary plastic candle loiters on stage, suggesting a romantic mood, but this show is more about conquering alienation than about finding love and sex.

Tom does share that they searched for their Great Apocalypse Love: a hot, clothes-ripping romance before the State of the World destroys us all. Across a brisk 70 minutes, Tom unloads their raunchy tales with humor. In one standout story, Tom’s former girlfriend, a gynecologist, married her other girlfriend on Twitch (an audience member behind me gasped an indignant “no, no, NO” upon this reveal).

But upon nearly losing said married girlfriend to COVID, Tom confesses they couldn’t have handled the paperwork of losing a spouse anyway (“That’s why we’re polyamorous: because paperwork is a job for a wife”). Why not just be the lover that cries beautifully at their funeral?

Such unimpeachably funny writing is expected from someone who wrote for Our Flag Means Death and the Reductress article “I Use ‘They’ Pronouns Because I’m Non-Binary and Also Because I’m Always Surrounded by My Bees.” Tom possesses all rich materials, with instinctive dips into queer commentary that twirl into zingers, such as, “Trans people are not perverts! Just ME!” Tom has a good time testing their capability to read the room for the audience’s reaction.

Tom is undoubtedly an affable, confident storyteller, though their ripe script provides a lot more space for them to inhabit, not just tell, the story as performances continue. For a text inherently about the human desperation for a Great Apocalypse Love, Tom could build more suspense within their dating and romantic incidents rather than matter-of-factly delivering the outcomes of breakups, though their final epiphany is lovely.

Do I recommend this show for the queer asses reading this review? Aw, yeah. The straights are welcome but should expect to be teased, and transphobic cis-gays remain on the hook. The future is looking sunny for Less Lonely — especially if you keep wearing that classy wardrobe, Jes; it’s a 10 out of 10.

Jes Tom: Less Lonely is at the Greenwich House Theater through January 6. Get Jes Tom: Less Lonely tickets on New York Theatre Guide.

Photo credit: Jes Tom in Less Lonely. (Photo by Samantha Brooks)

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