Review: "Potty Training" Makes Even Catheterization Funny

Potty Training with Joey Rinaldi

Written and performed by Joey Rinaldi

Presented by Joey Rinaldi Comedy at 59E59 Theaters

59 E. 59th St., Manhattan, NYC

July 12-16, 2022

Joey Rinaldi. Photo credit: Lamosa Photography
Good comedians have the ability to transform pain into laughter, and the bodily injury at the center of solo show Potty Training certainly gives writer and performer Joey Rinaldi plenty of pain to work with. With Potty Training (a title that must result in some amusing exchanges with theatergoers: "Hi, I'm here for Potty Training!"), New York City-based comedian Rinaldi tells the story of a brief moment of adolescent showing-off that resulted in more than one surgery and months of recovery. Rinaldi, who has won awards at multiple festivals, has recently appeared on the Risk! and NPR's Spooked podcasts and regularly performs his storytelling comedy show Bad Trip in Brooklyn. Potty Training is part of 59E59 Theaters' East to Edinburgh Festival, which showcases New York shows that will play the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world, this August.
Joey Rinaldi. Photo credit: PhotoJuice
After a funny opening anecdote about his adult self and career, Rinaldi takes us back to his middle school days, when he spent a lot of time getting into trouble in his hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut (using the local CVS as a late-night hangout spot is, it seems, a more widespread practice among suburban teenagers that we knew from our own years having a driver's license but nowhere to go). Rinaldi's discovery that challenging his teacher in CCD (short for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine - something akin to a Catholic version of Sunday School) garners him enjoyable female attention (and gives the audience some great jokes about the Bible) parallels the situation in which he injures himself trying to make sure that he gets recognition for doing a cool stunt "playing parkour" with some friends at school. Rather than adulation, however, what Rinaldi ends up with is a broken penis - don't worry; the show gets into what exactly that means in more detail. His reaction is relatable to anyone who remembers being that age–he is more worried about his Queens-raised mother being angry and about missing a chance to see a girl he likes than he is about the seriousness of his bodily trauma–and from there, Rinaldi delivers a hilarious and genuine recounting of the ups and downs (and yes, there are positives to the whole broken-penis experience) of the accident's aftermath.

The charismatic Rinaldi does not shy away from the more embarrassing aspects of his experience, and Potty Training is equally good at making you wince and smile. It strikes just the right balance of storytelling and comedy, of dick jokes and insightful observation. Sometimes, the show smartly slips the one in when you are expecting the other, and Rinaldi's engaging energy and facility with well-chosen detail renders all of it vividly. Just remember that if you happen to pee yourself laughing, take it as a positive: it means that everything down there is in working order.

-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards

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