Double Date at Oddball Fest 2014

22 Sep

oddball2014In a night full of big laughs from some of the best comedians in the world, some of the biggest laughs came from a seemingly unspoken bet among the comedians to see who could get the ASL performer to sign the most obscene phrase. What’s the sign for “squirting?” (the one thing Whitney Cummings won’t do.) How does the sign for “Cumming” differ from “Cooming” (a phrase Louis C.K. supposedly says to freak women out.) And how do you even begin to sign for “Vaginer,” the word Louis CK thinks sounds better and more actionable than the proper word. I apologize, what’s the sign for “I’m getting ahead of myself.”

After we adored last year’s inaugural Oddball Comedy Festival, there was no question we’d be back for this year’s fest, especially once we saw last year’s favorite Hannibal Buress and the rest of the stacked line-up. We brought a couple of oddballs dear friends along with us. It was especially fitting to take Madison and Katie, since I met the couple at Moontower Comedy fest earlier this year, and we’d seen both Marc Maron and host Brody Stevens there together as well. Last year, Austin was treated to the first night of Oddball on a Friday night, which gave it a fresh, kinetic vibe. This year we got the final night of the tour, on a Sunday, which made for more of a subdued, honed-in, victory lap of a show*, but a joyous one at that. Let’s get into it.

*There was definitely not enough drinking happening in the audience, making for a sleepier Sunday set.1007_GF Crack Pie_21-2Before we headed to the COTA track for 3.5 hours of cracking up, Madison and Katie came by for crack pie. I should leave the jokes for the comedians, huh. I’ve already been driving Caitlin nuts doing Brody Stevens impressions all week #PositivePush #YouGotIt*. Anyway, our friends came by with wine and pumpkin beer to pair nicely with the incredible crack pie Caitlin made, with a kit from our favorite NYC bakery. The ladies dug into the pie early**, while Madison and I were in the rock garden talking fantasy football and watching the Broncos/Seahawks as Scooby harassed us to try to get more attention/pets. After an hour of indulging, we jumped in my car with the Bey & Jay On The Run playlist bumping and headed to the fest.

*I will say that I do want “PUSH IT!” to be a thing adopted by my inner circle of friends. You can use it in so many situations! 

**We’re sorry!!! We couldn’t help ourselves. We were stuck in the room with it.

brody-stevens

As soon as we walked in, we sauntered up to the small stage to see host Brody Stevens. Not everyone gets Brody. I’ll admit it took me a bit to connect with him when I saw him at Moontower, but once you get to his level, you want him to host everything*. His countless hours of experience warming up crowds for shows like Chelsea Lately and @Midnight has made his stand-up show more about establishing mood than material. And as the host of both stages, that was exactly what was necessary. Brody went right into the crowd for some crowd work, acted out his scene in The Hangover (which I filmed), and even played the drums to get the crowd amped up. Brody likes to take a perceived slight, jokingly accost the crowd for not being on his side, get them on his side and then ride the wave of #PositiveEnergy together. He took a deader than dead small stage crowd and got us hyped up for a big night of comedy.

*I really just want him in my life, narrating every now and then. “Positive energy. PUSH IT.” See, this is why I do the impression so often.

doug_benson

Halfway through a forgettable no-name stand-up’s set, I went to grab a huge bag of kettle corn that would last us three hours and got back just in time for an un-billed Doug Benson set. Caitlin and I have seen our Doug a number of times, doing everything from stand-up at clubs and festivals to Doug Loves Movies and even a movie interruption of “The Little Mermaid.” We got a fun 10 minutes of Doug, who admitted he asked to be added to the bill just because he wanted to hang out with the other comedians. He was very high and a little drunk, as per usual, but being the consummate pro he truly is, his set was loose, but strong, starting with a local reference to Pflugerville and finishing with a clever bit where he tells both his most clean and dirty jokes at the same time. One of two comedians we’ve seen many, many times, his shtick just doesn’t get old for me. He’s a sweetheart and goofball and just plain enjoyable.

TrocaderoPhiladelphia, PAMay 19, 2012DerekBrad.comReggie Watts is overwhelmingly talented. He can sing, beatbox, loop sounds, do traditional stand-up, riff, do performance art, you name it, he can do it and it’s all entertaining. I’ve seen him combine those talents a number of times and it’s always good, but at the risk of being detrimental to someone I truly admire, the set often doesn’t quite come together and it feels like some of his talents go to waste. It feels like wasted time. Reggie divided up the audience to several sections for a couple minutes. There wasn’t a punchline to that. He had a fun bit where he acted like the mic cut out as he did an exaggerated song and dance with tons of movement. It was really fun, but it was also total silence for several minutes. My favorite bit was a straight-up joke about Jesus. Maybe I’m being overly critical, but I feel like Reggie has so much going for him, he just needs to work on tying it together for a tight set. I just think Reggie is too experimental for this world. That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy him — I very much do. But I think he works best in a pair, like playing off of Scott Aukerman on CBB. He’s still totally out there in that setting, and yet somehow he also is a little more focused. It’s focused weirdness.

hannibal-buress-71

Then it was time for our guy Hannibal. Fresh off of Lasik surgery, a glasses-free Hannibal was thankful to not have gone blind, joking that bits about his sense of smell in a bakery and the feel of stucco might not have been as enjoyable as his visual observations. We knew a good chunk of his set, having seen him in April and June, but it was as hilarious as always. In his 25 minutes, he packed in jokes about SXSW, sex, traveling and all kinds of stuff, but didn’t do our favorite bit of his where his DJ plays clips from rap songs and jokes about odd things he’s noticed in the lyrics. Still, the best comedian of the first act ended  with the bombastic “Gibberish Rap,” with Brody joining a number of other odd characters on stage to dance to his ridiculous joke song…chicken dick. Just looking at the picture of Hannibal made me happy right now. My favorite series of jokes was when he was talking about how we should all really be thankful that athletes ruin their bodies with steroids because of the entertainment and sweet interactions between parents and their kids it creates. I won’t spoil the direction he takes that line of thinking in, but you should try to track down a recording of that joke because it had me nearly in tears. “Let that magical boy ride his bike!”

ENT_Whitney-Cummings2_0624

I was not stoked to see Whitney Cummings. I’d seen a couple episodes of her self-titled sitcom and really hated it, and then also was unimpressed with her performance on the Chris Hardwick-hosted internet round-up show “@Midnight.” But I tried to keep an open mind, especially because Katie really loved her and she has great taste. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a mix of a LOT of sex talk without quite as much joy as I get when Amy Schumer is doing similar bits, and yet I felt I could relate to Whitney a bit more in some ways because she was lamenting all the crap women get put through when it comes to sex, and how unfair that is. It was a little bit feminist and I a lot bit liked that aspect of it. Whitney, you’re OK in my book. This is really where the ASL folks became stars of the night, too — Hannibal had already called them out, but Whitney straight-up got the cameraman to angle his shot on their antics. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed her set as well. It didn’t swing me far enough to being a fan and seeking her out, but she’s good.

maron

It feels weird to blog about a stand-up show in which the performer has an ongoing bit where he plays the role of a blogger reviewing his show as it’s going on, but here we go. Rage. Cats. Loneliness. A mix of rage and loneliness directed at his cats. Failed relationships. Talking about his failed relationships to his cats. Repeat. Maron’s stand-up can be a bit predictable and well-worn, but his shtick works because it’s so raw and brutally honest. I always enjoy him, even if I know what’s coming. It’s easy to identify with him. As he said to finish his set, “We’ve all had cum on us. Everyone here has.” Touché. I had never seen Maron live*, and I’d really never been able to stomach him before because he seemed like such a detestable whiny asshole. But the thing is, he knows it, and he’s not proud of it — but he just kinda rolls with it because I don’t think he knows any other way. He’s not being a proud asshole, like someone from Sideways — he’s a resigned asshole. It’s endearing somehow. *We saw him at Moontower a year and a half ago, but Caitlin keeps forgetting no matter how many times I remind her.

sarah-silverman-stand-up

Zack left both of the female comedians for me to write about…just sayin’. [Insert smiley with stuck-out tongue here.] To be fair, we all did discuss after the show that even though Madison and Zack both really enjoyed Whitney and Sarah, they also walked away feeling pretty bad about being dudes. They were unapologetically feminist and it was kinda awesome. I didn’t really like Silverman for a long time, in large part because I thought she was just going for the shock value of a woman talking about graphic semi-gross sex stuff. But then I heard some of her stand-up, and then I listened to an NPR interview with her as “the real Sarah” and, as it happens — she is just as sensitive to stuff as I am. She just now chooses to deal with that by putting it out there and pushing the envelope. Sometimes she takes it to places I don’t feel comfortable with or agree with, but I’ve definitely come around on her. I’m really happy Caitlin’s come around on Sarah and Amy Schumer. They’re both such strong, feminist female voices who can be off-putting if you just hear some of their surface jokes about sex stuff, but are truly funny and talented women. I loved Sarah’s show, especially when she sat on an audience member’s lap to connect and told our friend Alex to stop texting from the front row. She’s a doll. I had her a close third behind Louis and Hannibal. 

louisck

Louis C.K. is the best stand-up alive. End of story. After seeing Hannibal headline at Moontower, I argued that he was my favorite, but seeing them in the same night, it’s undeniable that Louis is in a league of his own*. Whether he’s talking about why vaginas should be called vaginers and demonstrating what “vagine-ing” would look like or making the sign language interpreter figure out the difference between coming and cooming or talking about how a dad has no control over his daughter’s sexual mis-adventures, there’s just no one who controls a room (or festival) like him**. He has seemingly endless material, so every tour feels 100% fresh and new and it all lands***. While we loved pretty much everyone at the fest, there’s only one Louis. We’ll whet our comedy appetites with James Adomian this weekend, but it’ll be hard to top the staggering amount of great stand-up we saw Sunday night.

*While Louis was my favorite on the night, I do not agree with this sentiment. I think Hannibal is better because he has a far broader cache of observations, jokes that run the gamut — Louie is pretty much all about sex and raising kids. Nothing wrong with that, but I don’t think it makes him the best. I think he’s better as a writer, because I MUCH prefer his show to his stand up.

**Sorry to be the contrarian, but it must be said that quite a few people left during Louis’ set, and nobody was really moving around much during Hannibal’s.

***Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve seen quite a few chunks of his stand-up and, as I said, I feel like it revolves around the same themes. 

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One Response to “Double Date at Oddball Fest 2014”

  1. tapeparade October 5, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    I have to say I’m not the biggest Louis fan in the world but I hear about him so often I feel I should delve deeper into his back catalogue of work. Big Sarah fan though! sounds like a very interesting night xx

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