“You know when you’re talking about a movie with a group of people, and it’s a movie everyone’s seen, and then there’s someone who loves to tell everyone they haven’t seen it? … Yeah, that’s how I was about sex.”
Aptly named, The 30-Year-Old Virgin is a stand-up special that really wants you to think its about being a virgin at 30. Opening dramatically with Kevin James Doyle (the show’s writer and performer) walking sombrely into a dimly lit church and confronted with effigies of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary the Virgin, the special makes it abundantly clear that this is a show about the mental and moral complications of (not) having sex … except it isn’t.
Indeed, after the above opening joke, the topic is mostly ignored for the next 60 minutes, with Doyle instead offering half-baked anecdotes about a ‘Donut Man’ and his numerous run-ins with the recently-deceased Philip Seymour Hoffman (really, for the proportionate amount he spends on each topic, the show really should be called The 30 Year Old Fan of Philip Seymour Hoffman).
Moreover, apart from the last 10 minutes, the comedy is all very paint-by-numbers: there’s no new perspective being offered, or fresh takes being given. At one point, Doyle’s commentary almost seems satirical it’s so dated (“American girls are like, ‘White wine! Mimosa! Yoga! Coachella!'” — 2012 called; it wants its vaguely sexist comedy back). Ironically, his virginity adds nothing to the majority of the topics Doyle broaches — not to say a person’s virginity should matter, but when his entire stand-up special is ostensibly framed around it, it probably should. For the lion’s share of the special, you’ll perhaps chuckle here and there, but mostly be bored by the B-Tier humour Doyle puts out (we get it, you like Philip Seymour Hoffman).
But then, the last 10 minutes happen, and it’s transcendent. When Doyle actually gets past the foreplay and into the advertised topic, his humour blossoms and matures in a way that is breathtakingly good. There are shadings of guilt, of frustration, of innocence — Doyle’s 30-year history of inexperience manifests into a perspective that is not only rarely covered but also incredibly funny. From the miscommunications he has with his partner (“Well, you asked a person who’s having sex for the first time to choke you!”) to unforeseen medical ramifications, Doyle deftly weaves a cringe-inducing, heart-melting tale of belated-firsts and sexual successes. Does it fully justify the meandering 60 minutes that came before it? Probably. After all, its always important to make sure your first-time is (a stand-up) special.
Kevin James Doyle: The 30 Year Old Virgin is now streaming online on platforms including Amazon Prime Video. The album of the performance is also available online including on Spotify.