Monday, November 19, 2012 at 7:04 a.m.
Adam Carolla and Dennis Miller
City National Grove of Anaheim
November 16, 2012
In the pantheon of pissed off, rant-a-holic comedians, its hard to find two bigger stars than Adam Carolla and Dennis Miller. As a kid, I watched Dennis Miller Live on HBO and Carolla on The Man Show and Loveline religiously as they took hilarious swipes at the things in life that annoyed them. Now Carolla is famous for his podcasts, while Miller has a nationally syndeciated radio show and makes regular appearance on The O'Reilly Factor. And as Ali Lerman pointed out in a recent interview with Miller, he's seen by many as a right winger, even though Miller believes he's in the middle and socially liberal.
So all this was swirling around the show on Friday night, and when I walked into the City National Grove of Anaheim and sat down at my table, I looked around the packed crowd, and I was shocked to find that the majority of the audience in attendance were close to 50. I was sitting at a table with three elderly women (though they were looking great for their age), and they were drinking pinot grigio, a merlot, and a hot tea. They were jabbering on and on about plans for Thanksgiving.
Carolla started out the night, and the first series of jokes were about casserole and other turkey-day situational humor. The crowd was eating it up like the little marshmallows on the top of the sweet potatoes. After the festive jokes, Carolla put up a series of images on the screen for a segment called: "Shit That Pisses Me Off." Carolla, famous for his hypersensitivity to the most random shit, put up images of graffiti cocks and hotel keys, and just riffed. About half way through his act, Carolla put up a photo of a truck with a window sticker that marked the memory of a deceased family member. He then asked, "Are there any hispanics here?" The crowd burst out laughing. He asked again, and only one person in the front of the audience raised their hand. So Carolla spoke directly to this person. "I'm going to be honest," Carolla said, "which means racist."
After Carolla's "abridged" set, Miller came out to the crowd to much fanfare. He looked older, but his mind seemed as quick as ever, and he jumped into some topical jokes. He started in on General David Petreaus's scandal (which reminded me of Miller busting on Big Willy and Monica), but he quickly transitioned to poking fun at Nancy Pelosi. Miller was saying that Pelosi was a train reck of a politician and "more over her head than a dwarf hitting on Shaq."
But it wasn't all political jokes for Miller. He talked about moving to Santa Barbara, the pope, and his age. He was making jokes about Cialis and impotence -- really appealing to the audience. Of course, he went back to the political jokes, and there were moments when Miller actually defended Obama. Suddenly Miller was hanging over the middle of the political aisle, but then he swung back when he said he didn't believe in Global Warming, and the crowd cheered -- this was not a joke. At times it seemed almost painful for Miller up there, because the audience appeared to be pulling him closer to the Republican side, coercing him with cheers: "One of us; one of us; one of us." Save for a few awkward stumbles, Miller was often hilarious, and the most memorable joke was about trying the criminally insane: "You were crazy when you did it," Miller said, "then we'll fry you in a clown suit."
After Miller's routine, Carolla joined him on the stage, opening up the night to questions from the audience. Right away, a bunch of tipsy women started heading to the microphone. Right away, threatened to be a major buzzkill-- one of the first questions was posed to Miller was "What is your opinion on Benghazzi?" In response, Carolla said, "I thought he was great in Roadhouse." All of a sudden, the questions, for a moment, sucked the air out of the room.
But what I thought, at first, was going to be a disaster, turned out to provide an opportunity for Carolla and Miller to go off the cuff on some sacrificial lambs. They were licking their chops when these unsuspecting audience members came to ask questions. It was probably my favorite part of the show. One lady came up to the microphone -- she might have had a few too many pinot grigios -- and stared talking nonsense. And once she got going, it was hard for her to stop. She suddenly wanted everyone to stand up for the Navy. So Carolla said, "We're all pro Navy, but I'm in favor of drunk chick sitting down." The Q&A provided some awkward moments, where one woman went off for a few minutes on how much she hated Obama. In the end, it was like watching a tea party town-hall meeting, except two great American comedians were there to make fun of them.
Critical Bias: Some of the jokes came into conflict with my politics. Hate to admit it.
Crowd: The demographic who voted for Romney. And some cougars from the Quiet Woman.
Overheard in the Crowd: "These shows are never on time."
Random Notebook Dump: Afterwards I walked across the street and to get pizza.