Friday, June 17, 2011

The Anti Social Network Review

I love comedy. Like a sickness. I remember back in high school, comedy central was only on for a few hours each day in our cable network; then, at 5pm, it'd turn into some other channel as if it were Cinderella at the ball. I'd rush home from school to try to watch a rerun of Short Attention Span Theatre - a little show featuring a guy named Jon Stewart. It was just clips of comedians, and I started tracking careers even back then.

So needless to say, this past week, I was OVERJOYED to get a ticket to see the Anti-Social Network Tour featuring Dave Attell, Jim Breuer, and Bill Burr,...hosted by Jim Norton. It was at the Chicago Theater during the Just for Laughs Festival that TBS puts on every year. Oh, and did I mention it was while I was up there alone in the city, working a tradeshow,.....on my 40th birthday? So it's already a set up for pathetic fandom. Let's watch, shall we?

So the show started with crazy uncharacteristically pumping dance music in the venue. Crazy flashing strobe lights. In one of the most ornate, historic theatres in the country. For 4 guys that I'm pretty sure have never cared about thumping dance beats. A local Chicago comic came out and did about 10 minutes and broke the awkwardness. I honestly can not remember his name, but he wasn't half bad. A lot of time spent on Chicago traffic, which as a tourist I didn't care about. But he was still good.

Then Jim Norton took the stage. He set the bar very high for the rest of the night. Or low,...because he was FILTHY. He talked about recently breaking up with a girl, and how he didn't want to break in a new sex partner because of how pervy he was. And his jokes focused on "just how pervy is he." I was audibly laughing the whole time.

I'll be honest, years ago, when he was always on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, Jim Norton did not impress me. He had "schtick" and a lot of anger in him. But relatively recently, I saw him on "That Metal Show" on VH-1 Classic, and he came out to a very hostile crowd. He eventually won them over with his cutting jokes, despite them being "too cool" to laugh. What I liked most about that appearance is how you got to see him as the fanboy he is just a little bit. So, basically, he had me at "Black Sabbath". So I was looking forward to seeing a set from him.

Then he introduced Bill Burr. I had seen some of his stand up on TV and heard a few bits on RawDog, but I wouldn't say I was a fan. But he was absolutely hilarious. He reminded me of Dennis Leary a bit, but he's an Irish guy, yeah, that'd be bound to happen. His impersonations of his dad were hilarious, and his bit about "No reason to hit a woman?" is always funny. No, it's not PC,....but damn, it is FUNNY.

Jim Norton was between each set, and he'd lay into all the people that so rudely got up to go get drinks or would wander in late to the set. It's just rude people,....because you're just not buzzed enough,...and I'm glad he embarrassed them. Hecklers had a very tough night with these seasoned pros at the mike.

Next up was Jim Breuer, who, if you haven't heard him on Howard Stern, is a great storyteller. He takes something mundane - or even a little sad, like when his 80-something dad defecated on himself while Jim was driving him and the kids home - and he makes it something really, really funny. His sound effects and impersonations,...whether it's his spot-on Tracy Morgan, or his dry heaving at the stench of his father,...had even the ushers with their backs turned to him, cracking up. As a parent, I could relate to his funny kid anecdotes, and as a audience member, I appreciated his commitment to the bit - he even fell down on the stage at one point - for the hilarity of physical comedy.

Jim Norton came back and berated some rich women in the front row who liked to go "whooo" for everything. I appreciated that. And I noticed that his twitches were calming down a little bit as the night wore on. The couple in front of me kept making out. How you make out to d*ck and p*ssy jokes, I'll never know. I just hate that Norton didn't see them. It would have been a beautiful materpiece, I can imagine.

Last up, was my favorite comedian, Dave Attell. His "Skanks for the Memories" CD is one of the funniest comedy albums. Ever. Hands down. Insomniac was a great show, and his delivery is unrivaled in the world of comedy. His jokes are crude and relateable. He's friendly and self-effacing,....but not above making fun of an asshole in the audience. He always includes you in the joke in a way that is hard to imitate. He's a master.

Personally, he has stopped drinking, and he lost a good friend, and one of my favorite comedians - fellow comedian Greg Giraldo - last year. And to me, Dave seemed tired. He wheezed several times during the show, and by the end of the show he was smoking on stage. The fact that I noted these things during the show, may have taken some of the pure enjoyment out of the show for me. But these are my worries for him, and to verbalize them any further makes me sound like a weird psycho.

So of course, a weird psycho should then MEET the object of her admiration, right? (uhg) I waited in line at the end of the show, and I shook all of the performers' hands. I wanted to fawn over each and tell them how much I enjoyed their work - not just tonight, but every night - instead it came out more like, "Great show." Smile. I am an asshole. But honestly, I guess that they'd prefer it that way. They don't need my accolades, I am certain.

Finally, I got to Dave, and I blurt out, "It's my 40th birthday, and I just love you." I hadn't unwrapped the DVD I just bought, and he had to open up the wrapper himself. (cringe) Since I was alone, I tried to photograph him with my stupid cell phone camera, and I was shaking so bad, I couldn't do it. He tells some random stranger to just take the picture, "It's her fucking birthday!" he shouts. But he did it very nice. I was so nervous I could have cried. How weird would THAT have been? I left the evening with great memories, a halfway decent shitty cellphone picture, and an autograph of one of my favorite comedians of all time.

So I hope everyone who gets an opportunity to see this tour in the future, will go. I hope that you support these comedians through buying their DVDs, CDs, and going to see their shows. And most of all, I hope Dave Attell is doing okay right now; wherever he is. Because he made me very, very happy....not just on one day, but lots of them. And he made what could have been a very sad birthday for me, one that I will truly never forget.

Until I get Alzheimer's. Which is getting closer every day.

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