Holy hotness! Despite the ridiculous overload of funny comics on tap at the 2nd annual Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, there was nothing funny about the heat. "Sweat" was the theme and it was seen on everyone from patrons, workers, and even the comics themselves. So yeah, it was hot. That aside…
While this year wasn't 100% sold out, it was certainly packed with the most eclectic mix of comedy lovers that you could imagine. Of course the line-up pretty much had something for everyone so the diverse audience was to be expected. Although, I did see two babies there and I'm not sure at all who they came out to see. Maybe they just came out for the beer and food trucks. Who knows?
The "second stage" was once again hosted by Brody Stevens and once again, he didn't let the audience down. Killing them with positivity and positively great crowd work, no one was safe if they decided to just walk on by. Most folks got wind of his agenda and chose to cop a squat on the lawn in front of the stage and watch fantastic comedy unfold while they waited for the main event. And it did. Allen Strickland Williams, Dean Delray, Amir K, and Grant Cotter all rocked the second stage and did so well in fact, we couldn't help but wonder if one of them could possibly hit the main stage next year.
*Side Note: In a surprise twist, two of those comics actually didn't have to wait a whole year to step onto the main stage as Brody Stevens was tapped to host the big event and Grant Cotter was tapped to bring out Brody. Well. Fucking. Done.
First up for the festivities was Ron Funches who was brought out by what I can only explain as his "entourage of hype-ness" that really got the crowd going. Puffing on a blunt, Funches set was filled with stories spewed in his slow drawl, included plenty of his infectious giggling, and even a little "poetry." To be honest, his "posse" being in the background the entire time was a bit distracting and I was personally wondering what the correlation was. I happened to bump into Ron after his set and asked him if he was nailing stereotypes with his crew (because after all, they were playing dice, drinking 40's out of brown bags, a barber shop scene played out, they threw out condoms and top ramen, etc.) and he told me that was exactly his plan and was so impressed that I understood. Yeah, I'm bragging.
With DJ Trama on the ones-and-twos, "My Neck, My Back" by Khia started pumping and Whitney Cummings came out. Visibly sweating, Cummings still managed to look beautiful while talking about (and then finding out) what the "definition of love" is, admitting that she isn't good at sexy talk, reminiscing about her twenties, and then covered "squirting" possibly a bit too much. Her set wasn't too shabby overall and the audience reciprocated with roaring cheers as she left the stage.
A guitar was brought out on stage and I was personally pumped beyond belief because I knew it was Demetri Martin's turn. He killed last year and this year was, dare I say, even better. Martin delivered observational and thoughtful jokes all while coming across as mellow as ever. His jokes are merely thoughts but the thoughts that Demetri has are simply brilliant. "Pets are animals that aren't delicious, food trucks should deliver, Jesus was one of the first scarecrows, and how he'd like to see a piñata filled with animals guts" were some personal faves of mine this evening but like I said before, his mind…brilliant. I might be bias here (although I think not because of the crowd response) but he was superb.
Sporting a jumpsuit that had his face on it (pre-Lasik), Hannibal Buress took his spot center stage to wax hysterics about his love of blackjack, to call Amtrak out on their loose gun policy, to question why our troops feel the need to wear their full uniform in Applebee's, and to explain why he thinks that baseball stinks. It was pretty easy to see that Hannibal was beloved by the Irvine spectators and for great reason, he was tremendous. He even rapped the people into intermission which was perfect timing because everyone around me seemed to need yet another $13 beer.
After refreshments and bathroom business was handled, Marc Maron took to the Oddball stage to deliver material that was relevant, intelligent, and unapologetic…when it comes to his feelings regarding relationships. While the words that flowed out of his mouth were both funny and smart, the laughs were sporadic making me wonder if following Hannibal was a bad move or maybe it's just that he seems a touch funnier on his podcast.
Chris Hardwick had his work cut out and handled it with ease and he got into Twitter and the trolls it breeds, how he'd fuck your mom (lucky mom's), and referred to himself as a "crusty Bill Nye on the inside and a soft Seacrest on the outside." He also taught us all a fun game we can play in the shower called, "mirror jacking." We'll let you imagine what exactly that game entails but just know that it was hilarious. Trust us on this one. Oh and truth be told Chris, Seacrest doesn't hold a candle to you.
DJ Trama kicked maybe the most random beat ever as Sarah Silverman came out to uproarious applause solidifying that she was a perfect choice as one of the top billed comics of the night. Silverman talked about feminism, mentioned that abortions can "really suck the life out of you," questioned a man to see if he's let god cum in his mouth, and examined the possibility of sperm not being made out of people but rather, made out of galaxies. At one point, a "Family Feud" board was also brought up on the giant projection screen with the topic of "Places Men Cum." It was so unexpected and so fucking hilarious. The crowd went ape shit for her and in my book, she was hands down the best of the best that night.
Speaking of ape shit, I have to admit that I was pretty surprised by the reaction of the crowd when Jim Gaffigan hit the stage. I mean really, these people went wild for him. He got into the TV show Storage Wars, talked about how he used to do so many jokes about donuts and then went on to talk about donuts for a few minutes (strange I thought), briefly touched on his feeling about Netflix, and told us that "Gaffigan" means "anxious" in Gaelic. He then went on to discuss "fish" and no shit, said the word "fish" like a hundred times. At one point I thought I'd kill someone if he said the word "fish" One. More. Fucking. Time. I'm guessing I'm alone on my feelings regarding his set because he received a partial standing ovation when leaving the stage. And that's all that matters anyway, right?
Brody Stevens returned one last time to bring out Louis C.K. and by the sound of the way the amphitheater exploded, I'm sure more than a few eardrums exploded as well. As he hit the stage, I turned around to look at the crowd and before he even opened his mouth, three fourths of the audience were on their feet. He started by saying that he was "happy that none of our mom's had abortions so we could all be there," treated us to his stereotypical Mexican voice, and told us how he likes to be weird in public on purpose. He also talked about "cum noises" and said he watched two rats randomly fucking in the subway because he wanted to see how rats cum. (Ummm…am I noticing a cum theme here?) Louie explained the Wizard of Oz in only a way that he could, admitted that he's frightened to be home alone when his kids aren't there, and mentioned that he has in fact called 911 for a "subpar emergency." We could go on and on here but let's just wrap up this stellar night of comedy by saying that Louie was magnificent.
Critic's Bias: Shout out to Brody Stevens for seriously carrying the show. Both of them. It was a long night with tons of action but he handled it like a pro and had the crowds in stitches for literally six hours. At times it felt like a bit of a struggle but Stevens is the king of "pushing through." We just wanted to give props where props is due and it would seem (at least to us) that Brody is quickly becoming a master of ceremonies to be reckoned with.
The Crowd: Even the heat couldn't stop this all age crowd from coming out in droves to catch this traveling comedy festival. As hot as it was, everyone seemed to keep their cool and while there was plenty of booze flowing, there weren't that many unruly folks to speak of. The few that we can speak of, were ever so politely asked to shut up by none other than Ms. Sarah Silverman.
Overheard in the Crowd:
"I can't tell if it's the heat or if I am going through menopause. Maybe it's both."
"I'm just here for Louie."
"I killed someone and got away with it." (Whhhattt??)
"Oh my god. Sarah ages backwards huh? She is stunning!"
Random notebook dump: To the dumb bitch two rows ahead of me who felt the need to whip out her phone and record minutes full of the comics sets, fuck you. Put your phone down and watch the show. I will never understand why anyone would be sitting at a show this grand and feel the need to record it now and watch it later. THEY ARE RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!!
Allen Strickland Williams