After bumping into a large crowd at Eugene Mirman’s only scheduled show of the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, I was determined to give myself plenty of time to make my way over to the Paris Theatre ahead of the final Saturday night show on my schedule, a reunion of the Hollywood Theatre’s always-excellent comedy showcase, Funny Over Everything. It was the right call; a sizable line was already forming a half-hour before the scheduled start time, and with the previous show running late, it became clear that the Paris would be at capacity shortly after the doors opened. A late start, tired legs, and a pair of drunk people chastising the line for paying money to see a comedy show that didn’t have Daniel Tosh on the bill wasn’t going to kill the buzz for those waiting—this was Funny Over Everything after all.
The showcase, which dates back to the summer of 2011, has always felt like an extension of the festival. Over the years it’s featured memorable headlining performances from Bridgetown favorites, along with bittersweet moments like Ian Karmel’s farewell show in 2013. Former hosts Sean Jordan, Shane Torres, and Ian Karmel were all in good spirits as they took the stage close to midnight. Jordan and Karmel got the opening monologue going with some light riffing, which Torres objected to immediately—“I don’t do weather riffing”—opening the door for plenty of cheap shots at the full-denim outfit that he wears all year round. The playful banter between the three immediately put the long wait in the rear-view, making way for a terrific night of comedy ahead.
Among the many highlights: Matt Knudsen’s routine about ordering the same meal you that you might find yourself experimenting with at a buffet struck a chord. Anyone who has ever stepped foot inside a Golden Corral or an Old Country Buffet knew where the premise was going as soon as Knudsen broached the subject, but it was his delivery that sold it. Innocently glancing between his imaginary menu and a server, Knudsen broke down his order plate-by-plate: “For my second plate: chicken nuggets, a handful of raisins, …and pepperoni pizza.” The absurd-yet-relatable requests kept escalating, pulling the audience apart along the way. Eventually, Knudsen’s closing request, a taco shell filled to the brim with ham cubes, brought down the entire house, leaving the stage in the hands of trembling Shane Torres, who had to fight through tears of joy to recover and shift gears for his own set.
It was one in the morning when all three hosts returned to the stage in unison to give a heartfelt introduction to their friend Kyle Kinane, who made it very clear right off the top that putting him on stage after serving him free booze all night might not be the best idea. Inebriation didn’t prevent Kinane from digging in deep and giving a performance that not only managed to avoid his previously used festival routines, but also the terrific material used in his Helium set from a few weeks prior.
After singing the praises of Knudsen’s buffet bit, calling it one of the best things he’d seen in his 18-year career, Kinane went all the way back to his junior high school days to regale the audience with a tale about the most amusing thing he’d ever witnessed. His story, about a classmate named Mario who became a legend for following up his mid-class flatulence by randomly uttering the word “Grabowski,” delighted the audience. Kinane fought through his own strong emotions to put the crowd in the shoes of the class (who would be literally rolling on the floor), and then the teacher (“Class dismissed... dagnabbit, Grabowski’d again!”), before eventually singing the praises of Mario himself for being some kind of young comedic genius and turning what should have been a shameful moment for a 9th grader into the funniest thing he’s ever encountered. The hilarious premise, coupled with Kinane’s genuine passion for sharing the memory, provided a nice cap to an all-around fantastic day of shows.
First up for Sunday was an early live taping of Ian Karmel’s podcast, All Fantasy Everything. The show, which features Karmel and friends fantasy-drafting food and pop culture topics ranging from sandwiches to one-hit-wonders to cities to spend a weekend in, has earned a spot in my weekly podcast rotation, so I had been looking forward to the show’s live debut all weekend. The taping began with Karmel and podcast regular Sean Jordan introducing the show and the topic (cereal) before bringing out guests Dulcé Sloan and Anthony Lopez.
Part of makes All Fantasy Everything such a treat is seeing just how worked-up the comedians can get when discussing the topic at hand. After Karmel and Jordan closed out the previous night’s show by inviting the crowd to attend the taping, they accused Shane Torres of cheating by selecting a sample platter in the “Garbage Food” episode. Torres firmly stood his ground and defended his pick, while Kyle Kinane drunkenly shouted, “He trumped your racket!” from backstage. It was pretty clear Sunday’s live taping had the potential to get heated, and the early afternoon show didn’t disappoint.
Not only was cereal the perfect topic for tired and hungover comedians to navigate, the addition of Dulcé Sloan (who was double-fisting whiskey and LaCroix [Amazing. —Eds.]) was the catalyst the podcast needed to go zero to 60 first thing in the day. Despite being unfamiliar with the show’s format (a serpentine draft, which Sean Jordan will gladly explain to you in greater detail), Sloan’s deep-cut cereal picks (King Vitamin?!) and her fiery disdain for some of the other selections escalated the discussion quickly. Jordan and Lopez’s strong opinions about sugary cereals making the milk in the bowl taste great was particularly effective at grinding Sloan’s gears, although Jordan’s story about being introduced to Horchata and instantly comparing it to Cinnamon Toast Crunch milk got one of the biggest laughs all afternoon.
When the subject of Shane Torres and his questionable pick resurfaced at the table, Sloan invited her “future ex-husband” down to the stage to keep her company. Jordan offered Torres a guest pick in the draft, and with it a chance at redemption. Torres selected the caramel corn found in holiday popcorn tins, subsequently derailing the show in a moment of chaos, and sabotaging Jordan’s solid start in the process.
The event was well-attended, energetic, and consistently funny, three things that are by no means guaranteed in an early-afternoon podcast taping, especially one that happens to fall on the final day of the festival. It’s clear that Karmel has a fun hit on his hands with All Fantasy Everything. The show’s ability to effortlessly dole out laughs to both casual listeners and fans makes for great road-trip material. Also great: seeing funny jokes that began as half-cooked bits on the podcast inform Karmel’s well-honed stand-up. If you’re not familiar with the show, I’d suggest checking out the most recent episode, “Parts of Songs That Give You Goosebumps,” with Eliza Skinner and Miel Bredouw, and then diving into the back-catalogue. Trust me, it’s going to help to ease those post-Bridgetown blues.