If you’ve never been to this website before today, let me preface this by saying that I love alt comedy. I LOVE ALT COMEDY. And I think that where alt comedy really shines is in front of the microphone. Today I discovered a small goldmine with this live concert footage of four of the best alt comics out there; Maria Bamford, Brian Posehn, Zach Galifianakis, and Patton Oswalt. It’s bad-ass, and if you love live comedy, this is one for the books!
Culled from a series of concerts in ’03, this film sets the tone for the rest of the decade in terms of pure creativity. Set in indie rock clubs instead of comedy clubs, this set of shows is superb in terms of the material these guys (and girl) have up their sleeve. The stand-up is inter-cut with their life on the road and all the zany stuff that happens to them. It’s a trip to watch some of the things they get into on the road, and gives an interesting up-close view into the life of a traveling comedian. Dealing with lame radio DJs and associating with fans across the country, these four comics pave the way for a whole new generation of comedy that won’t play easily by anyone’s rules.
What I really liked about these performances was they were not merely creative for the sake of being different, but that they were different because they had something unique to add. Comedy isn’t always about the big laughs, but rather about how you can get people to think differently about something. And these four comics do it better than few I’ve ever seen. Patton Oswalt in particular, the ringleader of this strange alt-comedy family, is just on a whole other planet with his material. He goes from simple topics like hating Bush to strange tangents like fat guys at the Soldier of Fortune convention. He’s a wonder to behold on stage, seeing his presence unload onto the crowd. It’s a shame we almost lost him to the Disney crowd with Ratatouille…
The other comedians are equals to him, but in other aspects. Brian Posehn is like an observational comic mixed with a heavy metal enthusiast. He has a way of phrasing things in his whiny, nasally voice that tickles me pink. Maria Bamford is the impressionist. She likes to do weird voices and mock up-tight WASP-y culture. She really digs into characters like her mother (Margaret Cho style) with a tenacity that belies her soft-spoken quirky mannerisms. And Zach… well, what else can you say? He’s the wild man. The guy you don’t expect to make it through a set. He’s so hammered, so crazy, and so spontaneous that you’re never sure what will burst out of his mouth next. Like David Cross, but without the consistency (he’s fucked up/wasted a LOT). If there was a weak link, I’d say it’s Bamford. She has the presence, but her material is kind of weak compared to the boys. I don’t believe that men are funnier than women, but the three men here just happen to be funnier than her.
Check this out if you get a chance. It’s a valuable addition for anyone who collects stand-up DVDs. This is stand-up for the new millennium; weird, dark, and incredibly gutsy. Check it out for some of the best stand=up I’ve seen this decade. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (from laughing too hard), you’ll learn to love again (because of all the raucous laughter going on). It comes highly recommended by me, with a sterling rating of 8 KFC bowls out of 10.
Tomorrow I explore a lost comedy tribe from the early 2000s, huddling together in the dark that I like to call Reno 911: Miami! Until then!