Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Comedy Death Ray This Week: CD Release Edition

There's a fine line between comedy and tragedy, and at Comedy Death Ray this week it was clear that the frankly shocking variety of material being presented could go pretty much any possible way. For the sake of brevity, we're collapsing in the I Love Movies taping in here too, as it was a large evening of entertainment where comedy was not the only thing on the menu.

I Love Movies
The great Doug Benson kicked off the evening's entertainment with a recording of his twice-monthly podcast. The guests were CDR co-curator Scott Aukerman and Mr. Skin, of Mr. Skin fame. Benson and Aukerman peppered the show with jokes and puns of all sorts, cracking each other up and generally making light of what seemed to be a cross between an interesting feature on an Internet business phenomenon and an infomercial. If you heard the appearance of Mr. Skin on the Adam Carolla Podcast the other week, it's similar to that-- although it's worth noting that the two comedians bring a lot to the table so it's worth your while to listen to the new funny.

Comedy Death Ray: Brent Weinbach Release Party
There were no surprise comedians for CDR this week, but there was indeed a surprise guest. The show focused on the release of Brent Weinbach's new album, which was performed in its entirety live with a couple of technical foibles. His new album, The Night Shift, can be had on iTunes and sports a mix of music, comedy, and... well, pretty much those two things.
  • After being introduced by her brother, who pulled hosting duties as well, Laura Weinbach took to the stage. She played three songs, two with a gentleman with a violin. These were, as far as can be told, not comedy songs and generally put the brakes on what was advertised as an evening of comedy. She's very talented, it's just that this was the token "one of these things is not like the other."
  • Next up was the always delightful Todd Barry, a soft-spoken comic that's somewhat famous but not necessarily someone you'd recognize by name. He is most certainly a funny dude, always worth catching on a talk show appearance and tonight's set was a shining beacon of fun. He did a great amount of riffing on opening for the headliner, with sharp barbs about who's more famous than who. It may come off as sounding a little mean-spirited, but let me tell you, this was good times.
  • A star in our pantheon of comedy gods followed with the great Neil Hamburger, whose set riffed on some quasi-current events and T.G.I. Friday's. As always, the man's delivery is impeccable and our party was rolling in the aisles. Looking around the room, some people didn't seem to totally love it, but let us assure you that those people were wrong. It was a fantastic set and I wish I had an MP3 of it to share with you, or to re-listen to myself again. The last time I saw Mr. Hamburger was five years ago at a fundraiser in Phoenix and it was just as awesome tonight. Bonus points for coming up with new Michael Jackson material.
  • Finally, Brent Weinbach came on to perform roughly an hour-long set which was his entire album, The Night Shift. There were fake phone calls, straight comedy bits, a few characters, and for some reason, music that does not seem to be remotely comedic in nature. It's a little jarring at a comedy show as it comes off less like a traditional set of stand-up and more like a one-man show. Our party's reaction was mixed, but the audience seemed to like most of it, including Weinbach's conducting a fart orchestra as played by the audience. Depending on your funnybone, this could be the best thing you see all year or not. This was clearly more experimental than the usual comic/comic/comic sets we're used to, and the set was not entirely comic material.
There were a few walkouts over the course of the evening, but "few" is the key word. For all we know someone was having a baby. So there you have it! We loved Neil and Todd, and as always we suggest researching these performers and seeing if you might be missing out on something fantastic.

1 comment:

Bossk said...

Man you are being way too nice about that show. Todd Barry was great and so was Neil Hamburger but Brent Weinbach was just not funny and not very entertaining at all. Having his sister come out and do not one not two but three songs was totally self-indulgent. do people show up to "Comedy Death Ray" wanting to see that act?

And self-indulgent was Weinbachs entire act. prank calls he made with his sister?? that russian alphabet thing wasn't very good either. all of his voices were the same "creepy black guy" voice too and it got old. That plus the audio problems, it felt like it would never end. i love Comedy Death Ray but if they're going to get all experimental they should at least warn people showing up for comedy. so if next week they have 15 minutes of a local vegan farmer's market vendor working a loom and singing folk songs as the opening act for david cross or whatever I hope they put that on the flyer so I know to skip that week.