I hope that someday I’m in a position to be given an introduction by Lance Bangs. When the filmmaker/producer took to the microphone during his Come Laugh With Us event at Doug Fir Lounge last night, he heaped praise upon the comics he was introducing, to the point that almost all of them were visibly taken aback by Bangs’ kind words.
To a person, the compliments were absolutely warranted. The sextet of performers that Bangs showcased offered up very different approaches to comedy, and each one tore the place apart.
The most vehement audience reaction came, of course, in response to an appearance by local hero Ian Karmel who was looking surprisingly hale after a four-day binge of standup sets and after-hours partying. If you caught any of his sets at the fest, you know that he’s only gaining strength as a comedian since leaving town, and even though he did lean on one bit (his epic description of the "Juicy Lucy," performed by request) that was familiar to longtime fans, his delight at relaying it all to a rapt hometown crowd was infectious.
The sharpest material, though, came via the three female performers on the bill: Erin McGathy, Alice Wetterlund, and Stephanie Hasz. Sure, a good chunk of it was given over to relationship foibles, but their arch approaches to that well-worn topic kept us all on our toes. This is particularly true of McGathy, who wrestled with her upcoming nuptials and potential missed opportunities with other men. She grabbed two gents from the audience to perform an outlandish play she wrote that finds her being courted by a British prince and a German professor. One wants her for her body, the other for her mind, until a white light appears and melds them into one perfect man. But alas, she rejects him so as to better learn how to love herself. For something supposedly written just hours earlier, it was the perfect combination of smart and stupid.
One big highlight of any of Bangs’ Bridgetown events is that he screens bits and pieces of TV shows and specials that he has worked on. There were outtakes from Jackass and his ongoing Adult Swim series The Greatest Event In Television History as well as clips from the upcoming season of the Odd Future-affiliated sketch show Loiter Squad and one of Mitch Hedberg’s last standup performances. Most exciting was the preview for Crash Test, a comedy showcase hosted by Rob Huebel (Children’s Hospital) and Paul Scheer (The League) on a large bus with an audience on board. From the looks of it, they tool around L.A. stopping along the way to interact with some of their famous friends (Aziz Ansari, Rob Corddry, Jack McBrayer, and Ian Karmel among them). I can’t wait for this to see the light of day.
Speaking of TV stuff, Doug Fir also brought Nathan Fielder to the Squarespace Stage earlier in the evening. The Canadian comic showed the first episode of the upcoming second season of Nathan For You and held a Q&A session. The twist was that anyone who wanted to ask a question had to be subjected to a good-natured interrogation by Fielder and his show’s co-creator Michael Korman. That provided some of the best moments of the event, particularly when they learned that one gent had spent the better part of two years hitchhiking across the country and back. In case you were wondering: yes, he was subjected to the sexual advances of some of the men who picked him up, but mostly the drivers wanted to proselytize or smoke him out.
When they finally got questions out, we got some nice insight into the making of the show, including the creation of the parody coffee shop Dumb Starbucks and how a private investigator featured in season one came away with his own reality show on Discovery thanks to his Nathan For You appearance. Inspired by that, Fielder and Korman made their own reality show featuring someone from the previous season: a security guard-for-hire that is easily distracted by women with large breasts. If any industry folks are reading this, snap up Simon Sees now before another network beats you to the punch.