Defending the Caveman

You don't have to believe in evolution to see remnants of prehistoric man in Cory Lyman's performance of Rob Becker's updated stand-up classic, Defending the Caveman. Lyman moves easily from spear-toting hominid to sensitive guy in explaining how the instinctive differences between men as hunters and women as gatherers translate into contemporary behaviors.

Photo of Cody Lyman in Rob Becker's Defending the Caveman
Cody Lyman in Rob Becker's
Defending the Caveman
To the tribal mind, the difference in skills called for in performing these critical tasks is clear: to hunt, men need to focus on one objective, make a plan, silently pursue their prey, and kill it; to gather, women need to multi-task, take in the whole jungle, pick out the right plants, sample them, and choose the appropriate offerings.

In Becker's hilarious script, the contrast between these approaches can be seen in everything we do, from watching TV to driving a car, from the way we relate to members of the same sex to the way we relate to members of the opposite sex.

Take shopping for example. A man will wait until he wears out his favorite shirt before he goes looking for a new one. He'll focus on finding a suitable replacement, and when he finds it, he buys it: That's that—hunt over; shirt dead.

A woman will go shopping without knowing specifically what she's looking for. She'll take in every available option, debate the pluses and minuses at leisure, and then may buy something along the lines of what she already has, in case she needs a different color. She'll continue until her basket is full.

The funny thing about all these extrapolations is that they seem to make perfect sense, as witnessed by couples in the audience who exchange knowing glances while Lyman runs down the misunderstandings that result from the clash of these two different cultures.

After an opening video that establishes Lyman's credibility as a married man who experiences the normal run-ins with his wife, he draws in his audience with an affable style, expressive facial and body movements, effective voice control, and excellent comedic timing.

Given the continued popularity of books and magazine articles that presume to reveal the secret to understanding "the battle of the sexes," it's easy to see why "Defending the Caveman" became the longest-running solo play in Broadway history—it offers sage advice encapsulated in a barrel of laughs.

Even Jungians, who find individual synthesis of masculine and feminine characteristics essential to personal integration, can appreciate Lyman's illustrations of what we've inherited from our ancient jungle counterparts. Let's hope the recognition of these instinctive patterns leads to an evolution in our behavior, both domestically and globally.

The New Denver Civic Theatre's presentation of Cory Lyman in Rob Becker's Defending the Caveman is in an open-ended run. 303.309.3773 or 1.866.464.2626. Tickets also at King Soopers.


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