Old Hats
85

Old Hats NYC Reviews and Tickets

85%
(205 Reviews)
Positive
92%
Mixed
6%
Negative
2%
Members say
Clever, Delightful, Funny, Entertaining, Hilarious

About the Show

Signature Theatre revives its hit multimedia clown show featuring Bill Irwin and David Shiner.

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Member Reviews (205)

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95
Clever, Delightful, Funny, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if you want to laugh. You'll leave feeling better about the world. The men are masterful and Shaina Taub more than keeps up with up them!

Don't see it if you've forgotten how to laugh...although this show might remind you!

95
Entertaining, Funny, Clever, Hilarious

See it if you want a good night of laughter. Hilarious, old-timey show. Slapstick and silly.

Don't see it if You like deep jokes and a rich story. Know what you are getting into when you go see it.

Critic Reviews (38)

The New York Times
February 18th, 2016

"The boys are back in town, with a new accompanist who gives their mild shenanigans an unexpected edge...These skilled clowns know that chaos and comedy are cousins. A delightful and manic audience-participation sketch recreating the filming of a movie western lifts everyone’s spirits before it’s time to go home."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
February 18th, 2016

"'Old Hats' is itself a retread; a slightly different version played a sold-out run at the Signature in 2013. The sketches are mostly unchanged, except to the extent that they are automatically altered by the serendipity of audience participation, of which there’s a lot...Even when the material is unaltered it’s still welcome, putting the sweet-and-sour pairing of Irwin and Shiner to excellent use both separately and together."
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The Hollywood Reporter
February 18th, 2016

"First, an admission: I hate clowns. But I'll happily make an exception for Bill Irwin and David Shiner, currently reprising their show 'Old Hats.' Even the routines you might have seen before — whether in their solo performances; their previous collaboration, Fool Moon; or this production, first seen in 2013 — are bursting with comic freshness and vitality, belying the fact that both men are in their sixties."
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Entertainment Weekly
February 18th, 2016

"Bill Irwin and David Shiner have been clowning around for so long, you’d think their shtick in 'Old Hats' would be more, well, old hat. But the rubber-limbed clowns (seriously, do they have any joints at all?) are as irresistible as ever."
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Deadline
February 18th, 2016

"Most of the routines will be familiar to those who have seen earlier iterations the show, whose highlights are some audience-participation shenanigans and the big fine, in which several folks are put into the service of filming a silent Western. The only thing assured is the sound of laughter."
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Theatermania
February 18th, 2016

"Clowning may be 'old hat' for Irwin and Shiner — two masters of physical comedy — but they're pros at dusting off their old tricks and making them shine like new...Even if sight gags and magic acts leave you cold, you can't help but join the celebration of this onstage camaraderie that cheers the theatrical traditions this duo is silently keeping alive."
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BroadwayWorld
February 21st, 2016

"Directed by Tina Landau, the return engagement of Irwin and Shiner's 2013 Signature hit, 'Old Hats,' is a fascinating display of an art form that retains its newness in the hands of masters who mix classic bits with modern wordless observations...Family friendly entertainment is rarely this hip...Singer/songwriter Shaina Taub and her band entertain between routines, showcasing flippantly fun lyrics and melodies that she sings with dark cheeriness."
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Talkin' Broadway
February 18th, 2016

"There's something illuminating and inspiring about witnessing a master decades into his career ply his craft as though he were fresh on the boards. And when it's good, it doesn't matter if it's familiar. So even though Irwin, Shiner, and Landau were just here three years ago, when 'Old Hats' made its New York premiere in the same theater, there's a good reason for this revival: They've improved both it and themselves."
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Theatre is Easy
February 16th, 2016

"Two highly skilled clowns and a charming band make for an irresistible evening of entertainment...This is a show that will delight countless audiences from every demographic...This is a production that's suitable for all ages. Although it gets bawdy at times, its heart is with anyone and everyone who likes to laugh."
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Theater Pizzazz
March 10th, 2016

"The performers bring an undeniable freshness and fierce intelligence to clowning, a form that Irwin and Shiner seem to have a monopoly on these days, at least in the theatre. But they bring a different kind of intelligence that we associate with most other actors and performers–a comic intelligence, for sure–but also the emotional intelligence required to show us something we know but often forget: comedy and tragedy are merely two sides of the same coin."
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CurtainUp
February 18th, 2016

"'Old Hats' is unlike anything else being staged in New York. If you missed it in its first go-round, catch this first-rate revival. It's a terrific investment of two hours of your life."
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Front Row Center
February 19th, 2016

"These two got me again. They know each other’s moves and if they spoke they would finish each other’s sentences…These clowns imbue their hats with life. Hats become sentient. They fly, they flee, they tumble and twirl, they zip and zing. And always, always, always they make us laugh…Irwin and Shiner make you laugh, and occasionally break your heart, with the lift of an eyebrow or the tweak of a pinky."
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Front Mezz Junkies
February 7th, 2016

"It was an entertaining evening, a bit on the soft smile side of the spectrum of enjoyment, but amusing none the less. Bill Irwin did crack me up as the magician’s big haired lovely assistant/jealous girlfriend in a skit that I must say stretched on a bit too long past the punchline. This is probably what I thought of most of the skits to be frank...I like my theatre with a bit more drive and a lot more engaging and engrossing storytelling."
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Broadway Blog
February 21st, 2016

"Bill Irwin and David Shiner return in 'Old Hats,' which uses clowning and physical theater as a vehicle for social commentary as well as a belly full of laughs...Some scenes are, perhaps, even more timely this time around...Don’t be fooled by the ease of these masters as you witness the culmination of generations of clowning tradition. Taub is a charming foil to the pair, delivering a whimsical collection of songs...'Old Hats' is a dream not to miss."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
February 18th, 2016

"For sheer sustained fun and laughter, there are very few shows that can rival ‘Old Hats,’ and very few clowns as multitalented as Mr. Irwin and Mr. Shiner, who dance, sing, play musical instruments, and clown with the nonverbal, physical genius of the great silent movie comics. This is the kind of show you can see over and over and still find that it never becomes old hat."
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DC Theatre Scene
February 26th, 2016

"The encore production of this flawlessly executed and cleverly designed show turns out to be irresistible, an antidote for nasty times, alternative medicine for flu season, a reminder that nearly anything done well enough–even mime and vaudeville–can feel new and hip…The only obvious change from the last run is the choice of singer and band leader Shaina Taub, who now provides the musical interludes…These songs indirectly underscore the tension in some of Irwin and Shiner’s routines."
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NorthJersey.com
February 20th, 2016

"Bill Irwin and David Shiner are back in town, doing their familiar, irresistibly funny clown routines one more time, and who would want them to do anything else?...Although Irwin and Shiner are both in their 60s, they’ve retained the remarkable physical grace and dexterity that are at the center of their art...The versatile Taub, writes quirky songs, sings, provides entertainment between the clown numbers...All three performers prove that something old can be remarkably fresh."
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On Stage Blog
February 19th, 2016

“This is one of those exemplary evenings of theatre with flawless performances by all. It is graced by two consummate artists who excel in their craft, love their work, respect their audience and appear much younger physically and mentally, than their experienced years. Make some time to sit back and enjoy a remarkable entertaining evening of theater.”
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The New York Times
March 4th, 2013
For a previous production

"Inspiration almost never flags in 'Old Hats,' whose highlights also include a vividly performed sendup of a sleazy magic act, in which Mr. Shiner’s smarmy, pony-tailed prestidigitator lubriciously ogles various members of the audience. Portraying his vivacious, big-wigged female assistant, Mr. Irwin looks on with increasing bitterness beneath the 'ta-daaa' smiles. I do have to admit to a little fatigue during the overextended passage in the second act."
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Variety
March 5th, 2013
For a previous production

"Everything old is new again, in this comic puree of ancient vaudeville routines, traditional circus acts, and classic mime pieces, along with silly tap dances and ukulele solos...There’s nothing snarky about this kind of satire, because every clown must first master the magic and love the artifice of it before he can presume to fiddle with it. But you also don’t want to turn your back on this show, because it’s loaded with sly insinuations about who we are and how we live today."
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New York Post
March 5th, 2013
For a previous production

"Let the cranks stay home and let the rest of us laugh our heads off at 'Old Hats,' one of the funniest shows of the past few years...Not many can pull gales of laughter out of thin air the way Irwin and Shiner do."
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New York Daily News
March 5th, 2013
For a previous production

"Get a load of who’s cooked up 'Old Hats' — two clowns and a singing sidekick with a salty streak. The combo actually works for this comic tasting menu that tips its cap to old-school vaudeville bits. The goal here is simply to make you smile and laugh for 110 minutes. Mission accomplished."
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Theatermania
March 4th, 2013
For a previous production

"'Old Hats' is at its best when the tech is dropped and the boys get back to basics...'Old Hats' isn't about edgy comedy, nor is it about digging up fossilized stage content and putting it on display for a history lesson. It is simply about how the most played-out, dusty gags in the book still shine like new in the expert hands of Irwin and Shiner, whose collective sustained excellence in the realm of physical comedy is so divine it may qualify them for deification."
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Talkin' Broadway
March 4th, 2013
For a previous production

"If there were nothing more to the evening than its clowns, that would not be a problem. But, as executed here, they’re just two cogs in a much larger machine. At least they’re hard-working cogs, and you never tire of seeing the wonders perform when they’re left alone to do what they’ve always done best. The biggest flaw of 'Old Hats' is that not enough people involved have seen that they can, and should, leave Irwin and Shiner alone far more often than they do."
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CurtainUp
March 11th, 2013
For a previous production

"Irwin and Shiner remind us here that clowning is no theatrical step-child but a full-fledged member of the arts...This clown show raises the bar on clowning, with its acrobatic finesse and intellectual bite. Irwin and Shiner put a spade to their clowning roots here and grow a brilliant new piece that has one foot in the past, one in the present, and surely plants them in the genealogical line of great clowns like Harpo Marx, Buster Keaton, and Charlie Chaplin."
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Stage Buddy
April 1st, 2013
For a previous production

"If you’ve never seen Irwin and Shiner before, for heaven’s sakes stop reading and order tickets immediately. If you have, be assured that it’s more of the same, with neither performer losing an ounce of energy or grace, and much fun to be had watching the pair try to one-up each other in juggling hats and dishes or currying the audience’s favor...It’s hard to imagine these mad hatters ever going out of style."
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NY Theatre Guide
March 5th, 2013
For a previous production

"What is better than leaving the theatre smiling and feeling like a million bucks? Not much, my friends. There should be a Nobel Prize for making people laugh. When you laugh you have to let go. You have to open up and let all the goodness in. When you laugh you are vulnerable and filled with joy. When you laugh you are at the mountaintop of being alive. Get on over to this show!!!"
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Bloomberg
March 5th, 2013
For a previous production

"Battling cosmic forces beyond them is one of the things that make Bill Irwin’s collaborations with David Shiner so much more than mere clowning around. That’s not meant to take anything away from the clowning itself, which is the irresistible core of 'Old Hats...' 'Old Hats' remains the mostly silent testament of two vaudevillians to the curative power of slapstick over the winter blues. It’s sheer pleasure."
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Newsday
March 4th, 2013
For a previous production

If Nellie McKay did not already exist, Bill Irwin and David Shiner would have had to make her up for their delirious joy of a show, 'Old Hats.' The slinky and game singer/satirist is that good a fit with these irresistible masters of new/old existential baggy-pants vaudeville. As for the fellows, well, it isn't much of a stretch to believe they actually could pull McKay -- and her upright piano and her shark brain -- out of one of their magician hats or their clown trunk."
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NorthJersey.com
March 5th, 2013
For a previous production

"Bill Irwin and David Shiner have distinguished individual careers as two of the world's greatest clowns. But when they team up, a special synergy happens. Rather than compete, each seems to feed off the talent of the other, enjoying the partnership of a fellow master...Irwin and Shiner perform more in tandem than I remember from the earlier shows, combining their skills at adding layers of artistry to their physical clowning abilities."
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UK Theatre Network
May 3rd, 2013
For a previous production

"In case anyone wondered if these terrific clowns are still as good, stop worrying. They are non pareil. (There’s nobody like them.) They still display the body jokes, the loose physical movements and juggler style tricks that they are known for...But the skits are not just physical, they are social and political, all staged with finesse by director Tina Landau...They may be 'old hat, but this terrific production is very very new!"
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San Jose Mercury News
September 18th, 2014
For a previous production

"The show felt strained by its musical interludes. Although hipster chanteuse Shaina Taub is utterly electric onstage, her edgy presence never fit the classic feel of the rest of the show. Don't get me wrong, if I ever manage to run off and join the circus, I sincerely hope Irwin and Shiner -- the Lords of Misrule -- are there, but 'Old Hats' could use a few more new tricks."
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N
April 24th, 2013
For a previous production

"Mixing slapstick with artistry—their bodies can go from rigid to boneless in the blink of an eye—Irwin and Shiner are able to animate the inanimate, wage battle against uncooperative furnishings and props, and trigger uncontrolled laughter with a raised eyebrow or sly smile. What’s more, they are fearless when it comes to merging the traditional with the silly and the silly with the subliminal, all the while indulging in their favorite game of one-upmanship."
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S
September 18th, 2014
For a previous production

"There’s something wonderful or hilarious or captivating in nearly every scene or song, but Irwin truly dazzles in a bit called 'Mr. Business' in which he fusses with his cell phone and then begins interacting with his tablet. The high-tech video trickery and the projections by Wendall K. Harrington and Erik Pearson are astonishing and so perfectly synchronized with Irwin’s shtick that it teases a whole new kind of digital clowning."
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CultureVulture
September 9th, 2014
For a previous production

"Clowning, the way Bill Irwin and David Shiner do it, is a kind of art form. Their newest show has come to San Francisco in a production deftly directed by Tina Landau...Together they are dynamite, tap dancing and mugging their way through two fast-moving hours of comedy...It’s a slick, polished evening of fun that is anything but 'old hat.'”
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Backstage
March 4th, 2013
For a previous production

"What makes an evening with Irwin and Shiner so special is how profoundly they complement one another. They do the same thing—make us laugh hysterically—but they reach our funny bones via different channels...Together, Irwin and Shiner run the full gamut of the ways physical comedy can speak to an audience. Their two-hour revue has something for everyone, no matter your clowning or musical tastes."
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Stage and Cinema
September 19th, 2014
For a previous production

"Run, don’t walk, while these two comic geniuses are still appearing. It’s been 13 years since Irwin and Shiner last combined their unparalleled comic gifts on a San Francisco stage. Who knows when they’ll be back?"
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Regarding Arts
September 20th, 2014
For a previous production

"Sheer bedlam. Those two words are all it takes to describe 'Old Hats,' a vaudevillian tour-de-force...Midway through the performance, during 'Cowboy Cinema,' the longest and most uproarious of nine skits, the sold-out theater shook from ricocheting volleys of uncontrollable laughter. We could feel the mirth down to our bones."
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