Reno: Rebel Without A Pause

Cracking wise about 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon when the dust had barely settled and the flames were still smoldering took nerve, which veteran stream-of-consciousness comedian Reno has always had to spare. Her Sept. 11 began with phone calls whose mix of everyday chatter and apocalyptic gloom — "Sorry to call so early,...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

  • Watch on
Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
Rating:

Cracking wise about 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon when the dust had barely settled and the flames were still smoldering took nerve, which veteran stream-of-consciousness comedian Reno has always had to spare. Her Sept. 11 began with phone calls whose mix of everyday chatter and apocalyptic gloom — "Sorry to call so early, but we're under attack. Call me later." — immediately activated her keen sense of the absurd. She saw the WTC towers fall from her apartment eight blocks south, and began sharing her unrestrained reflections in October 2001. Reno, whom Lily Tomlin once dubbed a "raving little everywoman" (in the best possible sense of the phrase), has always been thoroughly Reno-centric — her shows are stand-up memoirs with titles like "Reno in Rage and Rehab" and "Reno Finds Her Mom." But her innate understanding of the ways in which the personal is political keeps her from sounding like Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation), whose peevish dribblings about hazardous-waste cleaning crews stealing her jewelry and sentimental out-of-towners co-opting a local tragedy — her tragedy — into a sloppy national sob-fest reveal a narcissistic near-sightedness far more shocking than Reno's irreverent jibes. And Reno embodies a particular kind of New Yorker: Politically liberal, reflexively cynical, trend-conscious, proudly cranky, secretly sentimental and so thoroughly immersed in the New York state of mind that not until the National Guard closes the bridges and tunnels does it occur to her that Manhattan is an island. Reno's nimble rant simultaneously skewers national policy response and human details, like her withering assessment of the "first-time runners" stampeding down her street. But she also uses her manic, scattershot fury at all things self-serving and insincere to probe a knot of hugely complicated emotions. She starts out snickering at mid-crisis rumors that machete-wielding terrorists have commandeered venerable downtown macrobiotic restaurant Souen, graduates to seething at pious official hypocrisy and winds up stung to tears by Celine Dion's syrupy version of "God Bless America" and its piercing, utterly unintentional evocation of national ideals betrayed. Director Nancy Savoca's no-frills record of a show forged in still-raw emotions captures the unsettled tenor of that post 9-11 period far better than a more measured or polished production ever could.

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Cracking wise about 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon when the dust had barely settled and the flames were still smoldering took nerve, which veteran stream-of-consciousness comedian Reno has always had to spare. Her Sept. 11 be… (more)
Writer
Producer
Exec. Producer
Assoc. Producer

Show More »