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Monday, April 04, 2005

Yuckin' It Up... For The Kids

Pronunciation: 'proo-psi[ng]
Function: noun
1 : the act of one that deconstructs bad material and makes it worse
2 : reading the dictionary on stage to annoy people
3 : believing that dressing funny is 'most' of comedy

Last friday was April Fools Day (I sure hope that wacky practical joke you planned all year worked out! I can just imagine the look on Bob from Accounting's face!). Some friends and we decided to pass up the 'whoopie cushion' festivities and instead attend a benefit comedy concert for 826 Valencia, Dave Eggers' school for children who can't metaphor properly or something (truth is, I have no idea what this school/program does, as I hate children).

The comedians featured were Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianikis, Al Madrigal, Greg Proops, Sheng Wang, Jasper Reed and special guest Marc Maron. Overall the show was great with some notable exceptions. Let's review 'em up homies!

Madrigal was a great choice as host. A local boy full o'charm and stories of child rearing. I'd heard some of his stuff on 'Shorties watchin' Shorties' but hadn't heard anything else. Good stuff.

Then came special guest Marc Maron, working on a ridiculous schedule. He had done 'Morning Sedition' on Air America Radio that morning at about 3AM pacific, then hopped a plane, did the benefit and then went to do 2 shows at Cobb's. I sincerely hope he's coked out or superhuman. This was the 3rd time I've seen him and he was solid as usual.

Next up, local asian comic Sheng Wang. Fairly unremarkable and short set, but certainly better than some of the "Here's an impression of my parents. We like to trick our cars out too" hackery that some asian comics go for.

Then came the black hole of the evening. A tight, energetic show with a super-appreciative audience was swallowed into the gaping suck-hole that was Greg Proops. Obviously under the mistaken belief that 5 years on 'Who's Line Is It Anyway?' makes you a Harvard linguist, Proops feels the need to pound every joke thin with his 'grammar hammer' until every bit of funny has left. Then he pounds for another 5 minutes until most of the audience wants to hurl their bookbag at him. I don't think I've ever seen a comic that could take a semi-tired, dated bit about Ashlee and Jessica Simpson (She thought Buffaloes had wings!) and stretch it out for 20 of the most agonizing minutes of my life. Yes, we get it. We all got it 10 minutes ago. A bit about 'Newlywed' shouldn't last longer than the show itself, as a rule. The worst part is that you could see the 'wrap it up' flashlight every few minutes until they just gave up and realized that Greg was obviously 'in the zone' and couldn't be bothered to cut short his brilliant piece on how much the French love Jerry Lewis. My friend Jeff informed me later that it was the kind of set that if you ever tried to call Greg Proops on how awful it was, he would totally 'Klocek' you and tell you it's your fault for not being smart enough for it. So true. Let's move on, before the art of comedy is killed forever.

Then came an agonizing intermission (It only took an hour to seat all these idiots the first time), followed by more Madrigal, 10 seconds of Jasper Reed (Thanks again Greg!) and then the two headliners.

Zach Galifianikis was great. I've seen him many many times on the TV and he didn't disappoint. Complete with visual aids, his trademark piano noodling and a child choir, he had a great set.

And finally, the master. Patton Oswalt so effortlessly makes audiences shit their pants at this point, that he could roll out of a bum's ass after living there for 6 months and have a great show (as long as you gave him 2 hours to pound drinks at Andalu first). The highlight of the night for me was when he finally took the 'do not touch' sign off of Bob Hope. For years, everyone knew that Bob Hope sucked. We all tolerated his unfunny bullshit for the sake of 'respecting his legacy' but as Patton put it, "the last 20 years was (doing Dave Thomas doing Bob Hope impression)"Some people say I'm finished, but I think I never got started. (motion for diarrhea in his pants) **SOUP**!!!". Maybe it doesn't translate well to print, but who cares, it made me soup my own pants laughing. He performed a short but sweet set, tried out some new material as well as continuing to tinker with older bits. There's rumor he's recording another CD later this year, and I already know it will kick ass.

At one point, Patton mentioned what a great crowd it was. Yes and no. The problem with San Francisco comedy crowds (compared to New York) is that they have that small town attitude of "We better appreciate this or the big comedy superstars will never come back". So as a result, they will laugh at ANYTHING. Proops' entire set is a prime example of this. Local comedy here needs a few more people to yell out 'you suck!'. Filling someone with confidence as they suck away your life with poorly thought out, ill-premised material isn't doing anyone any favors.

But all in all, a good show for a good cause (I assume. Like I said, I hate kids). Truth is, it could've been a benefit for injecting killer bees with Ebola and a drug that turns your hands into big 3-D swastikas and I'd still have gone. Well, maybe. I mean, swastika hands? That's pretty bad. Maybe if they took Proops off the bill.



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