A couple oddballs at the Oddball Comedy Festival

26 Aug

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We were treated to an incredible night of comedy Friday night. It was a big comeback night for Dave Chappelle and the Flight of the Conchords*. Years after both left TV at the top of their game, seeing them was like seeing old friends and finding yourself laughing just as hard as you ever did. If it was just the two of them, it would have been well worth the price of admission, but it was a loaded bill. Hannibal Burress had a masterful multimedia act. The always lovely Kristen Schaal went into character and danced a “Flashdance.” Jeffrey Ross was superb roasting the crowd and hosting and Al Madrigal and Demetri Martin rounded out a wonderful night at the Austin360 Amphitheater.

*I was a humongous fan of Flight of the Conchords in college, but never had an opportunity to see them live. Although I’m a bit sad that Kristen Schaal didn’t run onstage to do some guest spot with them as Mel, and that Murray was nowhere in sight, it was still an amazing experience to finally see these two in the flesh.

austin360We were under the impression that doors were at 5, so Caitlin worked from home until 4 pm and then we headed south, expecting a ton of traffic. 35 minutes later, we’re parking (without making note of where we parked*) and taking a shuttle to the venue before the gates even opened. Soon enough, we headed inside to a series of free booths handing out Airheads and Twix and samples of Redd’s hard cider**. We listened to a bit of a train wreck Brody Stevens*** and Austin favorite Chris Cubas while we waited for the GA section to open up and wished we’d put on sunscreen****. We found perfect seats in the front row behind the paid seats and killed some time and made this vine.

*This makes me cringe just reading it. Stoopid, stoopid, stoopid.

**It was like a festival made just for me, in terms of the free things being given away. Candy! Chocolate!! Delicious sweet-tasting strawberry flavored cider!!!

***This guy is the worst guy of all the guys and I wish that all of his “friends” in show business (of which he listed many…as his act. His act was name-dropping.) would stop giving him hook-ups and tell him that he needs to find a new line of work.

****Zack very sweetly helped cover me with the Crazy Creek seat we brought along, and so I didn’t even get burned! It was an Oddball miracle. I was happy to share my chair, even though I was wearing white shorts. I did have to give Caitlin a sideways look when she said “we should get another one of these so you’ll have one,” though.

al-madrigal-659x388First up was The Daily Show‘s Al Madrigal. His bit is that he’s a dad with some anger issues and has a wife who’s a little too into Yelp. It’s a solid set-up and he’s a good story teller and he definitely shouldn’t be allowed back at his kid’s dance recitals*.

*Agreed all-around. This was a proper opening act – didn’t steal the show but definitely got us chuckling and loosening up.

Kristen_Schaal

Kristen Schaal was introduced as Jeffrey Ross’ nephew and came out in a tennis ball yellow hoodie and Broncos hat and acted like an aggressive bro who wanted to “shove it, shove it.” The bit went on a few minutes before she told us that as the lone female on the bill, she had to feel out the sexism in the crowd*. She was funny and polished and a joy to watch throughout her set that ended in a wonderful dance number to “Flashdance” complete with costume and a special guest pouring buckets of water on her head**.

*Her “reveal” was super hilarious. She took her cap off and shook her hair out and was like, “It’s me, you guys! Kristen Schaal!” As if we didn’t already know.

**This may have been my favorite part of her bit, AND as it was happening I turned to Zack and said, “Is that Jemaine up there with her for this dance?” He didn’t think it was, since I am infamous for mistaking people for other people, but I was vindicated in the end and was happy that my Flight of the Conchords crew had a semi-reunion.

Demetri Martin33

 I’ve never been a big Demetri Martin fan and he didn’t endear himself to me with Friday’s show. He was flat and it felt forced. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t particularly good either. I know Caitlin was looking forward to him and I hoped he’d be better, but it wasn’t his best night. I, on the other hand, have always adored Demetri Martin. I think I first saw him at the height of my “enjoying people who look like Zach Braff” time of life, and I loved that his humor was simple, straightforward, observationalist without being cruel – the kind of humor that I felt like I would lean on if I were a comedian. I bought his special long ago, and have watched it twice through. The second time, I turned on the commentary, and that solidified me as a fan, because it turns out Demetri is a neurotic perfectionist mess, which I have some experience with. All that being said, he disappointed on Friday. In the spirit of what turned out to be an evening with a lot of sexist humor, he kind of had some sexist humor, and obviously that alienated me. He had a few good one-liners and I still enjoyed his set more than Madrigal’s, but after looking forward to seeing him live for so long, I definitely felt like he phoned it in.

20th Annual Night of 100 Stars Awards Gala - Arrivals

I’ve been a huge fan of roast master Jeffrey Ross for years and almost wished we were closer just so he could roast us as we walked in. He’d pick out members of the crowd and tear them apart. I know Caitlin can’t wait to say how much she didn’t like it, but she laughed hard quite a few times. I’m not going to argue about whether I laughed or not, or how much or how hard, because obviously Zack and I remember it differently. What I will say is, any schmuck can get up in front of people and just be mean. I know Zack disagrees with this, possibly because he participated in a roast of his childhood friend Ari last year and it was definitely not easy. Here’s the thing – I know it’s not easy to do it well. I don’t think Ross did it well. He was unbelievably sexist, catcalling women who had no chance of recourse in front of an audience of 14,000. I guess in protest, I’ll simply post this link from a Rookie article and hope some of you read it. No, Jeff Ross. You’re not funny when you participate in sexist behavior. You’re just an ugly asshole. #roasted #JeffRossForever.
hannibal

Hannibal Buress was spectacular. He expertly weaved in rap songs he found ridiculous, having them cued up to play certain lines that he’d dissect. He had a great pace and had us roaring with laughter through his brilliant “gibberish rap” song. We were saying Chicken Dick all weekend. Truly, Buress was excellent. Before the headlining acts went on, he had solidified himself as my favorite of the night. I loved him talking about L’il Wayne at a live show, simply playing an entire song by another artist, and pointing out that he could never do the same at one of his shows. To prove it to us, he had his DJ play a clip from an old Chris Rock bit, and simply said, “Mmhmm! Yeah!” every now and then for emphasis. He dissected the most ridiculous rap lyrics he could find, and it was just original and fresh and funny.

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For the record, Zack chose the photo you see above of Flight of the Conchords. I think I first came to this comedy duo because they were from New Zealand, and my aunt is from New Zealand, so I felt a connection. Then, I stayed with them because they were a musical comedy duo, and what do I love more than music? Nothing. Finally, I became an everlasting fan because of “Foux Da Fa Fa” and “Business Time” and “Prince of Parties” and “Part Time Model,” and so many more. Even though the songs were strong and the guys mixed up crowd favorites and new material, I thought their best stuff (and the stuff I laughed hardest at) were their “band stories” involving muffins and other rock ‘n’ roll topics. Since the Austin360 Amphitheater is right by the airport, planes would fly by and interrupt the comics’ set, and almost every one of them commented on it, but I laughed hardest at the Flight of the Conchords. When a plane flew overhead, Jemaine and Bret laughed and said, “Oh god, they’ve sent a missile for us.” The vulnerability of them laughing at themselves at this paranoid observation just endeared them to me more. I always love these guys. I stumbled upon them at Bonnaroo 2007, right before their show debuted and thought they were so lovable. Friday night was good to see them spreading their wings and playing a lot of new stuff, while looking quite a bit older, especially Jermaine. But they’re as great as always and kept us smiling the whole time.

chappelle

I never really got into the Chappelle Show, even though it was a huge deal when I was in college. I never really knew about Chappelle’s disappearance from the States, other than the fact that I knew he’d walked away from his show because he felt like people were laughing at his stabs at racism in America for very, very wrong reasons. I was excited to see him live because even though I didn’t have a personal history with this comedian, I could feel what a big deal it was for him to be there. He absolutely won me over. Even though he had “11 minutes of material” it didn’t feel that way. We listened to him open up and wax poetic on his life with his family, that it was not easy to walk away from 50 million dollars, and his vindication at saying it’s OK to quit sometimes, and then having the pope resign a week later. There’s a reason that they had Dave Chappelle headline this festival, and I selfishly hope he continues on with his career so he can open people’s eyes while he makes them laugh. I was a die-hard Chappelle Show fan and everything from “Half Baked” to “Block Party” to his stand-up has been sacred in my eyes. I’ve missed him these last eight years and if anything, his comeback is an explanation of why he “didn’t do shit” the last eight years. He’s not in the right frame of mind for it, but that’s OK. He talked a lot about how it’s OK to quit, citing the Pope as encouragement. The heckling and yelling out wasn’t as prevalent as it supposedly was last time he was in Austin, but his long pauses and times where he comes to a complete standstill almost ask for it, though I never would. He was definitely short on material, but whether he was doing a bit or just riffing and explaining where he’s traveled to and what he’s seen, it was special to see. He’s one of a kind, and even if he never has the big comeback we all hope for, it’s great to have him back in our lives. After Chappelle left the stage, we somehow managed to find our car and headed back to Scooby. I hope this is the start of us going to much more live comedy, especially with me switching to an early schedule in the fall. 

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One Response to “A couple oddballs at the Oddball Comedy Festival”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Double Date at Oddball Fest 2014 | rockloveaustin - September 22, 2014

    […] we adored last year’s inaugural Oddball Comedy Festival, there was no question we’d be back for this year’s […]

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