Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Comedy Death Ray This Week: Too Much Funny

With a really strong roster, this week's Comedy Death Ray was truly one of the season's best. Just hours ago, the UCB Theatre in Hollywood was buzzing with some truly great acts, including...
  • Host Hari Kondabolu kicked off the set with a fantastic routine that puts him in our "watch this guy" list. This particularly sharp set skewered race and other fun issues, race being a running theme throughout the evening. Be sure to catch Hari if he comes to your town.
  • The always awesome Chris Hardwick returned with a mostly new set, filled primarily with gooey new material and a few bits from his CDR performances earlier in the summer, but refined with the kind of deliciousness you should expect from the host of G4's Web Soup. Aside form a sack of new material, he brought along a fake beard and did one of the best impressions of another famous comic we've ever seen. We'd go into more detail but we'd like to preserve the surprise should you see it. (Remind us in six months if you're still curious.)
  • We saw Ali Wong perform and this San Francisco resident did indeed have plenty of great material. She was a sea of blue in a fairly dry evening of comedy, giving a stark contrast to the other performers of the evening.
  • The new Between Two Ferns debuted, and we were informed this was a rough cut. The Zach Galifianakis quasi-talk show featured Charlize Theron, or to you comedy fans, "Mr. F." It will likely be up on Funny or Die or other video sites shortly, at which point you should watch it repeatedly.
  • The great Nick Kroll has brought various character-based acts to Comedy Death Ray quite regularly, but tonight was the first time we were lucky enough to see him perform his stand-up act. He had a ton of material to test on the crowd, which ate it up. Anyone that can bag on a room for knowing who Ira Glass is may truly be a comic for all seasons.
  • Doubling up with The Sklar Brothers, a duo you may know from sports programs (unlikely for our readership) or their appearance on It's Always Sunny. Watching two comics perform with essentially one mind is either some fantastical Wonder Twin power or evidence of what must be grueling practice, we expect some of each. A particularly strong aspect of their act is the ability to make use of the second person on stage. Neither is "the straight man," but they switch effortlessly between one another to deliver the funny. Normally when a comedian tells a story with multiple parts, the comic has to change his voice or face another direction to indicate a shift in character. The Sklars don't need to do this, so the transition from a stand-up set to what amounts to a mini sketch is pretty seamless.
  • The night was rounded out by Aziz Ansari, who had a ton of new material to try out since his TV special taping and tour. What's more, he even had a book of more new stuff which an audience member asked what it was during a Q&A session, despite Ansari referencing it throughout the evening. It was clear he had the audience in his front pocket with tons of material ranging from DJs ruining new songs on the radio to some stupid thing an audience member said at a recent show. It's also funny to hear a comic deconstruct their own act, as Ansari did complaining that his cousin isn't doing anything stupid lately which generally generates about 10 minutes of material. Trust us, it's funny.
All in all, a solid show with a few nice surprises. We were a little surprised to see the night start off with Hardwick, being one of the strongest performers in the Comedy Death Ray pantheon of comedians, but clearly someone had to go first. Combined with I Love Movies, it was another great night of comedy and if you're in L.A., it's worth your while to check it out before it becomes overexposed to the point where you can't get in.

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