Talk about a tough act to follow. When the Neo-Futurists got their own space not too long ago and left Live Bait Theater, taking their phenomenally successful show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind with them, they left open the late-night slot they’ve ruled with nonstop sellout houses for more than three years. Well, if anyone can give them a run for thei money, Jeff Garlin can. His one-man piece I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With has the mysterious drawing power of a blockbuster movie (I’ve seen it four times, and many of my friends are repeat viewers as well). The draw is mysterious because Garlin offers nothing usually associated with hit shows: supercharged theatrics, high school humor, faux controversy. Instead, Garlin’s hilarious an endearing work is carefully articulated and intelligently structured. He simply tells stories for an hour and a half, storeis so honest and emotionally truthful (especially when he talks about trying to fall in love) that we cannot help but recognize ourselves. Add Garlin’s acumen as a writer and his impossibly effortless wit, and you have a surefire hit, as evidenced by the piece’s original seven-month run at Second City ETC last fall. Since then Garlin has expanded the piece without compromising its overal shape and power. See it in the comfortable, intimate setting of Live Bait, before it moves to a venue big enough to accommodate all the fans Garlin’s going to have. Like Soldier Field. Live Bait Theater, open run (3914 N. Clark, 871-1212). Fridays and Saturdays, 11 PM. $7.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Robert Erving Potter.