Goodnight O.J.: No Bedtime Story

From the Playboy Blog, 12/5/07

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In 2006, O.J. Simpson made critics pound on their keyboards when he announced the upcoming publication of If I Did It, a hypothetical description of how he would have murdered his wife and Ron Goldman if indeed he had.

But O.J. had already published a book back in 1994, while still in prison. In I Want To Tell You, Simpson printed and answered some of the 300,000 letters he received in jail.

Thirteen years later, comedian Livia Scott resurrected some of these missives in her one-woman show, “Goodnight O.J,” at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. I checked it out last week. Scott’s a rising star in the comedy world. She’s appeared on Conan O’Brien and Comedy Central, and she’s been hailed in Time Out and the New York Times. For all that, however, “Goodnight O.J.” wasn’t really funny. 

This wasn’t due to anything lacking on Livia Scott’s part. She had a dynamic presence and made convincing transformations from teenage girls to decrepit old men. No, the reason “Goodnight O.J.” didn’t get me laughing was that the letters were incredibly creepy.

There was one from a KKK member, which began, “Looky here, Sambo,” and excoriated Simpson for sleeping with a white woman. On the opposite end of the spectrum was a devoted eight-year-old girl who made the frightening declaration, “I don’t think you did it, but even if you did…everyone makes mistakes.” Even the letter that got the most laughs, in which a woman named Collette told O.J. he was “the most handsomest black man” in the world, got into a serious discussion of race relations and intermarriage.

And then in less than half an hour it was over, and I was left wanting much more. Scott dug up a lot of questions and discomfort about race in America and our odd fascination with celebrity. But she answered none of them and gave no closure. Kind of like O.J.’s case.

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