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San Francisco Fringe 2016

Hey, Hey, LBJ!

David Kleinberg

Genre: Solo Performance

Venue: Exit Theatre


Low Down

“David Kleinberg’s year as army combat writer in Vietnam, powerful work on the US’s most division foreign war. Kleinberg arrives supporting the war, but things change. Acclaimed by the Wash Post and ex-Rolling Stone senior writer. 8-show run at Marsh Theater. Performed in Vietnam. Kleinberg was editor/writer at the SF Chron 34 years. As comic performed w/Robin Williams, Dana Carvey, Richard Lewis.”


Hey, Hey, LBJ!

David Kleinberg in
Hey, Hey, LBJ!

Music from the 60s plays to set the atmosphere of this show – Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water and then some wilder tunes. A photo of David Kleinberg, the writer and performer is projected on a screen and we are taken back to Vietnam. Kleinberg himself arrives speaking to us urgently about M48 tanks and M14s. In a khaki T-shirt and jeans, the avuncular Kleinberg retells stories about his life – acting some of them out – as a young correspondent during his service in the Vietnam war. What is remarkable in the photo is that a twenty-something Kleinberg is standing in a bunker made of sandbags, and he holds his large typewriter and a rifle.

His journalistic perspective and experience is fascinating and this show is of interest to those who lived or served during the Vietnam War and those who are too young or know little about this time.

Kleinberg is an agile performer, he’s a physical actor and moves around the large stage as he changes characters and locations. His story is told through flashbacks and flash-forwards, which is an excellent choice for his subject and performance style. As a writer/performer his vocal delivery, physicality and crafting work well together, he has a range of speeds, clarity of thought and diction and it’s easy to follow the intertwined stories. Hey, Hey, LBJ! is a well-paced show interspersed with video clips, photos, zippy music and even a few dance steps!

While the subject matter and how it affected the lives of everyone involved is serious – including people in the USA, Americans in Vietnam and the fate of the local inhabitants – moments of humor about the ineptitude of his higher ups are welcome. Kleinberg is in his element! He is dynamic, endearing and really enjoys performing and sharing this time in history for others to learn and reflect. The stark realization of war is chilling but Kleinberg’s take is humanistic as a writer and journalist first and a soldier second. Plus he was also only twenty when he started his time in Vietnam and he has some amusing girlfriend stories.

Kleinberg brings all his experiences together in this show, directed by Mark Keyword and developed with David Ford. Kleinberg’s dry wit, sarcasm, irony and humor together with fascinating facts we learn along the way and some very moving moments make this a powerful one-man show.