Sunday, April 15, 2007

Featuring Eugene Mirman, John Oliver, John Aboud, Rodney Rothman, David Rakoff, and 'music' INTERNET

On April 11, 2007 I turned 30. In honor of myself I vowed to take time off of work and spend my time in the days leading up to April 11th partying with family and friends on Cape Cod and seeing some noteworthy comedy shows when I got back to NYC. On April 10th I was able to attend McSweeney's Presents: The World Explained, a benefit event for 826LA and 826NYC featuring 'precision comedy and fact-based entertainment', hosted by Eugene Mirman. The event featured monologues and stories told by the likes of the Daily Show's John Oliver, Modern Humorist's John Aboud, former head writer for The Late Show with David Letterman Rodney Rothman, and essayist, journalist, and actor David Rakoff. Musical interludes were provided by unimpressive supergroup Final Fantasy Online aka Internet.

Let me begin by getting Final Fantasy Online aka Internet out of the way. The band features Dan Boeckner & Hadji Bakara of Wolf Parade, Nick Diamonds of Islands, and Syd Butler of Les Savy Fav. They came across as boring, lazy, ironic-in-a-bad-way, blasé, unrehearsed. I am sure everyone there found reasons to dig them, but I despised their presence. I still don't understand the point of having them on the bill. Hipster cred? To sell more tickets? Individually, I dig the bands they're in. But piecing together this ad hoc supergroup seemed a superfluous and completely unnecessary addition to the show. I hate that I hated it, but I also hate when I get the feeling a band doesn't give a shit about their audience. I just felt like they didn't want to be there and didn't give a shit that they were there. Ah, you be the judge. ANYWAYS.......

I really like events at Symphony Space. It's just a great place to see a show. The last time I was there I was having my ear drums mangled by Keiji Haino and The Melvins, so it was a nice change of pace to see funny, intellectual discourse there. The show was sold out, and general admission, but as I was flying solo it was no problem getting a great seat in the 4th row. As with the Melvins show, I noticed David Byrne was in attendance. Sarah Vowell did a brief introduction describing the mission statement of 826 before showing a hilarious faux-documentary about one of the 826 volunteers (played by Sam Rockwell). Following the video, Eugene Mirman came out to get the event officially rolling.

For me, Eugene's intro had two significantly hilarious highlights. The first was his declaration that he spent many years as a child in special education classes and that he lip-synched a Bill Cosby stand-up routine as one of his book reports. The second item of note was his story about being pulled over, fighting a ticket, agreeing to a plea bargain compromise, and his subsequent letter to whatever county the ticket originiated in explaining the sheer insanity of trading the original crime for a completely made-up, lesser one. I have seen this bit before, but, man, it's funny.

* musical interlude *

John Aboud was up next and his performance was brilliant. You see, when he was in high school he was on a 4-person trivia team that competed, on television, with other trivia teams from other high schools. His monologue, aided with video footage from the actual trivia episodes, illustrated how the quest for knowledge might not always be a good thing. He illustrated the contempt, irrational cockiness, and utter dickheadedness one develops when knowledge is used as a competative tool. Very very very funny.

* musical interlude - cover version of Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd *

David Rakoff came to the stage next and, with the help of illustrations by artist Arthur Jones, discussed the 525,600 reasons to hate the play Rent. And he was dead on. Fucking dead on.

* musical interlude - cover version of Dumb Dog from Annie *

John Oliver came up and his appearance had more of a stand-up feel. Having seen him about 3 times in the past month, a lot of his material was nothing new. He did however tell a very funny story about his penis falling out of the slit on the front of his shorts during a 400 yard run when he was a kid. It happened in school, in front of students and parents, and he just let it hang out there. With great detail he described how it went from bouncing side-to-side like a metronome, to actually swinging in a completely circular motion.

* musical interlude - equipment knocked over, podium knocked over *

Former head writer for The Late Show with David Letterman Rodney Rothman was the next and final guest. The Internet left their gear on during the beginning of his set so for the first few minutes my brain was shifting its attention from Rodney to the buzzing of the amps. Rothman told us the story of how, for the Letterman Show, he created a boy band from the ground up; he held open auditions, chose the band members, wrote a song, hired a choreographer, came up with a routine, and had a performance on the Letterman Show as though they were a real, legitimate, new boy band. He discussed how far he took the farce which included an apperance on TRL, a website, and even the devlopement of an actual, loyal following.

* musical interlude - cover version of Hangin Tough by New Kids on the Block *

At this point, Eugene gave the closing remarks and the event ended.

A fella named Shawn Liu Took Some Pics


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