Funny Or Die's Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival September 15, 2013 Verizon Amphitheater
Yesterday, comedy nerds herded into the Verizon Amphitheater to check out the outstanding line up of the first ever Funny Or Die Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival. With a lineup that included Dave Chappelle, Flight of the Conchords and Chris D'elia, it promised to be a night that comedy lovers would never forget. When the gates opened at 5:00pm, the long line --populated by folks from every imaginable walk of life-- filed in and got exactly what they were promised.
The crowd then filed past signs warning they'd be thrown out for taking photos or video, before cruising by $13 beers (just kidding, we stopped for one) and merch booths from the likes of Dish Nation, Marlboro, Twix. There was even a food truck. The show itself began on the "second stage" at 5:15 with Brody Stevens, who absolutely floored the crowd with hysterics.
Stevens chastised the people walking by his performance, pointing out that heading to the mainstage "pointless because there is nothing going on up there...yet." With a down to earth yet cocky vibe, Steven's cracked, "We could do this on the main stage but we want to be here with the people." The people were happy about that, and all the laughter caused more folks to soon crowd around. I just couldn't wait to hear what he'd say next. He was the first comic and a complete highlight. On a side note: it must have been cool to look out from the stage and see a crowd so diverse that it literally looked like the United Colors of Benetton ad, with cultures mixing side by side laughing in unison. Ahhh the magic of comedy.
Following Brody was Brent Morin who delivered an amazing routine and then oddly enough mentioned, "I don't know if I'm even doing okay because I can't hear you guys." He was in fact murdering in a major way. People stopped walking by and soon everyone was packing in to watch the second stage performers do their thing. The comics that followed were Ron Funches, Ian Karmel, Barry Brewer and David Angelo. Everyone did a fantastic job warming up the spectators for the main event, no joke.
Heading into the main arena for some main stage action, we promptly got yelled at for just looking at our phones. Host Jeff Ross hit the stage and Irvine went wild for the Roastmaster General. Ross went in on several fans in the front, as the cameras captured them and projected their images on the four screens that adorned the stage. The sold out venue went crazy as Ross picked on a "stoned looking guido" and his girlfriend who was "almost fuckable".
He then broke into a set filled with weed talk, cumming too fast issues and even dropped a Cory Monteith joke that (pun intended) killed. There was a guitar on the stage and just as I wondered who'd be playing it, Ross brought out "special guest" Jesus Christ (aka Kevin Lee Light), who picked up the guitar and sang a song called, "Have a Blessed Fucking Day" that quickly turned into a sing along. What a fantastic way to start the show!
Kristen Schaal (from Flight of the Concords, Daily Show, Wilfred, etc) was brought out by Ross and was so hyped to hit the stage she screamed her love for the city of Irvine so loud that I thought I might go deaf. She then laid down some amazing dick jokes, talked about her love of dancing and even read a "monologue" about her taint. Yes. Her taint. (It was, in a word, taintastic.) Just as she was about to leave, Schaal ripped her dress off to reveal a leotard she had on underneath. "What a Feeling" from Flashdance began playing, and she danced around the stage like a maniac. It was priceless. She even had a chair in which she leaned back in and had water dumped repeatedly on her head just like Irene Cara in the movie. Her performance (both the stand-up and the dancing) was phenomenal.
Jeff Ross then came back out to roast a few more folks in the crowed and then introduced special guest Donnell Rawlings. The Chappelle Show co-star came out to a song which he rapped along to and even tried to get an audience member to sing along to as well. The guy in the audience either didn't know the song or didn't want to say the word "nigga" into the mic as Donnell held it down. It was probably a smart move, because Rawlings quickly went into why hip hop needed to keep that word in music and then stated that, "I just said the word nigga 182 times in two minutes and Paula Deen can say it once and get fired." He professed his love for Deen, mentioning that he jacks off to the way she explains food on TV and saying, "I wanna break the biscuits off Paula Deen!" He then talked about the president, civil rights, how he'd "quit slavery" if he was a slave due to the way they talked, special guest Rawlings was especially funny indeed.
Ross then brought out Chris D'Elia who didn't disappoint, because let's be honest, he rarely does. The guys next to me were dying laughing (and super stoned by the way) while D'Elia imitated a drunk girl to perfection, questioned why Asian men always fall asleep at the mall, questioned why you never see happy Russians, talked shit on grown-up "super fans" who paint their faces for sporting events and mocked himself. The audience ate it all up. Everything that came out of D'Elia's mouth worked, and masses were beyond appreciative.
Ross then announced another special guest and this time, it was none other than Hannibal Buress. He told stories of how he used to open for Tracy Morgan, how he once took half an ecstasy pill, about the growing trend of "molly" in rap songs and how he prefers to drink instead of smoke weed because when drinking he can "enjoy the moment" and when he's high, "he over analyzes the moment." Hands down, Buress was fucking hysterical.
Demetri Martin came out next with his guitar and harmonica in tow. As a big fan of his TV specials, I couldn't have been more excited for this moment and dammit, it was everything I had hoped it would be. Playing his guitar while telling jokes about wondering if "it is rude for deaf people to talk with food in their hands," finding it cool when "an ex-girlfriend turns into an XL-girlfriend," and even mentioning that he "once saw and ugly pregnant lady and just thought, good for her," The audience loved him, and his set that was beyond well done.
Even after all of this comedy, the audience was still captivated. Next, The Daily Show's Al Madrigal hit the stage to talk about his kids, the Golden Corral restaurant lowering people's standards, his hate for his neighbors and how Mexican party stores always have knock-off piñatas. They audience whooped it up for Madrigal's set. He was tremendous.
When Jim Jefferies stepped to the stage, it was obvious that he was a crowd favorite, even before be opened his fantastically filthy mouth. New dad Jefferies spoke about his son Hank and hit heavier topics (yet somehow still stayed light and funny) like gun control and shamed Olympian Oscar Pistorius. Jefferies stated that Oscar Pistorius was an inspiration to him because, "he shot the hottest girl in the world and hot girls have been getting away with stuff for too long." He then shouted, "LET THAT BE A LESSON HOT GIRLS!!" He ended with a delightful "cum in the face" joke and we all just about died laughing. He used the c-word seven times. Yes, I counted.
After Jim left the stage it was time for a brief intermission for leg stretching, bathroom breaks, and refills on the $13 beer. Upon our return, a band set-up was arranged on stage, and Ross brought out Flight of the Conchords. Deafening screams and cheers filled the air. I knew FOTC would be brilliant but the show that they put on tonight was nothing short of spectacular. This New Zealand based duo (Bret and Jemaine) played different characters in song after song, stopped to tell their very (not at all) rock and roll road stories, rapped a bit (holy shit unbelievable!!), and even put the eight security guards on blast saying that they were there so people wouldn't text or tweet. They also welcomed any groupies to come back stage and do, "really weird stuff with aquatic life." They then apologized to Irvine if any of the groupies woke up with some "bass in their ass" or a "sole in their hole." They got a standing ovation, because wow, they were great.
Ross then came out to let the crowd know that Chappelle would be out in just a few minutes. As they removed FOTC's instruments, a white sheet dropped and set the stage for Chappelle. An announcer came on the intercom and reminded us (again) that cell phone use would not be tolerated. Chappelle's shadow then appeared behind the white backdrop, and the crowd went ape shit and rose up for another standing O. The curtain dropped and there stood the man of the hour wearing a black muscle shirt and pushed up sweat pants.
He immediately said, "Give it up for my pants and thank you Kanye for the suggestion!" Hysterical. Sitting on a stool and smoking a cigarette, Dave seemed like a calmer version of himself. Still funny, but he seemed calmer. At times he seemed a bit regretful as well, talking about walking away from a fifty million dollar contract as well as the incident that just went down in Hartford Connecticut while on this Funny or Die tour during which he walked offstage.
He mentioned Hartford quite a few times saying, "I said two very fucked up things that I didn't mean. One was that I hoped they'd all died in a car crash and the other was that if North Korea drops a bomb, I hope it drops on Hartford." It was obvious that the incident was weighing heavy on his mind. It was also easy to see that he got a lot of great material out of it. Chappelle didn't let the crowd down with stories about interracial dating, how he lectures his kids (and how it backfires), told a touching rape story and went off about how now that he's in his forties, he "just quits in the middle of jerking off" because "jerking off is a young man's game."
He also did a bit on some of the saddest movies around including In to the Wild (where apparently someone died of diarrhea), Precious (because every urban statistic happened in 90-minutes), and Hotel Rwanda because it renders you "unable to get pussy after watching a genocidal movie." As he did his set a few people screamed out, and I instantly worried that these assholes ruin this set for us. Tonight though, Chappelle took it all in stride, telling us that we were a "great crowd". The crowd screamed, "NOOO!" when he wrapped up his set, and Chappelle said that was told that he would be fined if he wasn't off the stage by 11:30pm. It happened to be 11:29pm, and Dave waited until the very last second to leave, ensuring that everyone got their money's worth.
Before leaving, he mentioned that he hates when people say, he's "trying to make a comeback". I think I can speak for everyone when I say that, to us, Dave Chappelle never left. The standing ovation he got while exiting was well deserved.
Critic's Bias: With a line-up like this, how could any comedy fan go wrong? Oh that's right. If you use your cell phone you'll get yelled at and kicked out. Other than that, no fan of comedy could possibly have left this venue disappointed.
The Crowd: This audience was fantastic. It was filled with hip hop heads, rockabillies, hipsters, glammed up gals, rock star looking mofos, and even a man eating sushi with chopsticks (where did he get that from?). There were also tons of comedians walking around with us "common folk" to watch this festival unfold which was also pretty cool.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I just came out to see some legends." -Andrew Santa Maria (comedian) "That guy was hilarious! What's his name? Chris D'Elia? I gotta look him up!" "I LOVE YOU DAVE!!" "I'd take some sole in my hole from Bret!"
Random notebook dump: If the guy behind us who is talking at the top of his lungs to another guy about his ex-fucking-girlfriend doesn't shut the fuck up, I'm going to shank him with my pen.
See setlists below
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Second Stage Setlist
Brody Stevens Brent Morin Ron Funches Ian Karmel Barry Brewer David Angelo
Main Stage Setlist
Jeff Ross Kristen Schaal Donnell Rawlings Chris D'Elia Hannibal Buress Demetri Martin Al Madrigal Jim Jefferies Flight of the Concords Dave Chappelle