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Actor finds the comedy of the 'Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus' face-off

Published March 18, 2014 1:44 pm

Stage • Touring show makes fun of gender differences outlined in best-selling book.
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Readers learned to expect sparks of drama from the Mars-Venus interplanetary face-off of male-female relationships, from John Gray's ubiquitous selp-help book, first published in 1992.

Now insights drawn from "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" have been transformed into another kind of theater. Actor and "Moth" storyteller Peter Story will perform a one-person show about gender aliens and relationships on Thursday, March 20, at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

The touring show debuted in Europe in 2007, and Story began performing it in American cities in February 2013.

"Men Are From Mars" might have been inspired by a self-help book, but don't expect to attend a seminar or couples workshop. Instead, it feels like an old Bill Cosby comedy set, he says, with material that should spark humor whether you're attending on a first date or out on a date night with your longtime partner.

"The comedy of the show is that I spend very little time talking about the actual book and its actual messages," Story says. "Instead, I spend more time talking about myself and my life and the relationships I'm in."

The script was originally written by Broadway playwright Eric Coble, and then Story was asked to make it his own. So when Story performs the script, he tells stories drawn from details from his relationship with his wife of four years, Megan.

As a performer, he has been drawing upon that material for years, including his yarn "Wedding Jackpot," which he related on public radio's "The Moth" show on April 27, 2013, about the competition the couple entered to win a dream wedding. As part of the competition, Story posted videos on YouTube of their relationship, including the trip to Alaska where he documented his proposal.

From the road, Story talked about the comedy of score-keeping in relationships and the four-word secret that helps men and women understand each other.

What have you learned about the male-female relationships from performing this show?

The fact that there are fundamental, chemical, physiological differences between males and females, and a lot of times we take these differences personally. One quick example: When stress becomes chronic for a female, eight times the blood flow rushes to the brain. That's a fact. And in these moments, men think we need to fix things. Because we're guys and that's our nature, we're fixers.

Any other funny-serious ideas that always land with audience members during every show?

We talk about the point system a lot, the fact that Martians and Venusians keep score completely differently. Us guys think if we give her 24 roses, that costs a lot, so we deserve a lot of points, that's 24 points. The fact of the matter is that [to women] one rose is one point and 24 roses is one point.

How do women keep score?

Females are giving themselves points all the time, everything that a woman does for a man throughout the day. They get points when they're picking up your socks off the floor, and when they make you dinner. We come home from work and we've already got negative points.

Anything serious underneath the comedy of the show that we can learn about arguments?

In the show, we talk about the four words that are the key to living happily together: Men need trust and approval, and women need attention and understanding.


'Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus'

Peter Story performs in the one-person show about relationships drawn from the self-help book by John Gray.

When • Thursday, March 20, 7:30 p.m.

Where • Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $50 (plus facility and ticketing fees) at 801-355-2787; arttix.org