Nerd Show at 2012 Just for Laughs | Comedy review
Ever heard of Nerds at Heart? It's a Chicago-based dating event that aims to play cupid for self-identified nerds. A similar lovefest happened last night at the Nerd Show, a night of stand-up comedy at TBS Just for Laughs that gave geeky audiences the chance to hear stand-up from some beloved dork comics (Yes, I know it's wrong to use words like dork and geek as a synonym for nerd but grant me some creative license here). Podcaster Pete Holmes (You Made It Weird) hosted.
You can learn a lot at a nerd show. Local comedian and self-described science geek Dan Telfer, for example, devoted his short set to sixteenth century astronomer Tycho Brahe and 21st century astronomer Lisa Nowak. The former was a Danish nobleman who discovered supernovas. From Telfer we also learned that he wore a prosthetic nose and kept a court jester under his dining room table. Telfer also illuminated the bizarre story of Nowak, who was involved in a bizarre love triangle and in 2007 drove from Texas to Florida (allegedly wearing adult diapers so she didn't have to stop for bathroom breaks) to confront her ex-lover's current girlfriend Colleen Shipman. Nerds are full of information.
I also discovered two new comic voices previously unknown to me. Comedian Hari Kondabolu killed with a series of wise and witty anecdotes about everything from the Rolling Stones in concert (who according to Kondabolu resemble the Bodies exhibit set to music) to imagining the back story of the black woman pushing the white baby around in a stroller in his posh Brooklyn neighborhood. Maybe she isn't the nanny, he mused. Maybe white babies are a status symbol for rich black people and this one came from inner city Stockholm. In his finest anecdote, he wondered aloud what happened to the career of band Weezer, who he noted have ran out of gas after Pinkerton. The story started out funny, but kind of ran out of steam. According to Kondabolu, that's the point. He wanted the joke to echo the trajectory of Weezer's career.
The other find was Mike Lawrence who played to the nerds in the audience with a few reference-specific jokes that occasionally drew blank stares. "I know that I just lost most of you," he'd say, "but five of you just added me on facebook." He talked about a cringeworthy Q&A with Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, his love for Glee and the lack of originality in the name of his home state of Florida's pro basketball team the Miami Heat. "We surveyed 100 bothered Jews and asked them what they hated about Florida," he quipped. "We couldn't couldn't go with their #1 answer, the Cubans."
I've raved about Los Angeles-based comedian Brent Weinbach many times. Describing him as a hybrid of Steve Martin and Andy Kaufman doesn't really do him justice. Weinbach delivers neither jokes nor stories. Instead he conducts strange little comic experiments that lean heavily on strange voices, visual gags and audience interactions. He performed one bit entirely with a British accent and had an audience member read aloud his fortune in another. You kinda had to be there, but he killed it.
The headliner was comedian Brian Posehn (Just Shoot Me, Sarah Silverman Program). "Take off your thinking caps," Posehn warned the audience. "Time for the big retard." A one-time stoner, Posehn has given up pot smoking, to the chagrin of his audiences. He also noted that in middle-age, his interest in masturbation has waned. "Pot and my weiner are like Buzz and Woody in Toy Story 3," said Posehn. "You used to play with us all the time!" Two longer stories stood out. In one, Posehn describes a gig in Cave-in-Rock, Il in which he played to the Gathering of the Juggaloos, a festival for fans of Insane Clown Posse. In another he talked about farting on Christian Slater at an audition and imagined Slater's response. "Uggh, I've got character actor all over me."