Theater Review - Just Dandy

There’s a saying that some people tell funny stories, others tell stories funny. In his touring one-man show Like a Dog on Linoleum, character actor Leslie Jordan proves to be a rambling but uproariously humorous raconteur.

A cult figure thanks to recurring appearances on “Will & Grace” and his drag role in the DVD sleeper hit Sordid Lives, Jordan emerges as an archetypal babbling Southern “queen.” Imagine Truman Capote’s dapper bearing and high-pitched purr charged with the pep of a high school baton-twirler, and you get a sense of Jordan’s ingratiating chatterbox persona.

He spins yarns about growing up gay in the Tennessee hills and displays a flair for imitation and old-fashioned Southern turns of phrase: An old friend lived in a town so remote, “it was about seven miles from where Christ lost his shoes.” Like an oral historian of Dixie eccentricity, he’s especially hilarious when he shows how a Southern spinster smokes “Pell Mell Unfiltered” cigarettes: take a drag, then pick the tobacco flecks off the tip of the tongue.

Jordan drifts from topic to topic, not always locked into beginnings, middles or endings. At times he perversely skips the juiciest details. He mentions that he once shared a jail cell with Robert Downey Jr. - then neglects to elaborate.

Like a Dog on Linoleum’s second half takes an increasingly serious turn as Jordan self-diagnoses his longtime cravings for drugs, booze and young hustlers. It’s weird when an irreverent performer begins to utter unironic phrases like, “I suffer from a spiritual malady,” or describes his relationship problems as stemming from “internal homophobia fueled by alcohol and drug abuse.” The therapy-speak makes the show feel like the end product of some kind of 12-step program. When Jordan vaguely describes his spiritual belief system, it’s like he’s tying things up in a neat little bow.

But even when he sounds like a motivational speaker, Jordan comes across as completely sincere, and when he reminisces about his deceased father or a friend’s death during the early days of AIDS, he’s surprisingly moving. Like a Dog on Linoleum’s mushy moments don’t spoil the pleasures of riding along Jordan’s river of words.

Like a Dog on Linoleum. Through July 10. 14th Street Playhouse, 173 14th St. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m. $40-$50. 404-733-4750.