I've seen several TV tapings in person, and it's usually a retched experience. The director, producer, or camera man makes the audience do take after take of laughs, cheering, and clapping. This can go on for half an hour, usually forcing me to find something awkward about the way I clap or laugh. But tonight at the Bank of America Theatre, that was not the case.
TBS put a concise and fun show and TV taping together for the Just for Laughs festival. After asking the audience to give them just a few sound bites of applause, the show began. It was nice to see a production have faith in the comics to get big enough laughs that they didn't need any manufactured ones from the crowd. The confidence TBS had in Andy and the comics paid off.
The show included: Reggie Watts, Andy Richter, and the Conan Writers. Watts' unusual but hysterical delivery and stage persona kicked the night off with his musical comedy, currently gaining a huge following after opening for Conan's "Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour." Reggie often improvises the beats and lyrics to his "songs."
Then came the host of the show and Conan's lovable sidekick, Andy Richter (SPOILER ALERT: just this paragraph). Andy incorporated two memorable bits into his set. One including reading a diary he claimed to use during the tour in which he pointed out how terribly Conan treated him. The other including a backstage mishap in which Andy allegedly cut off the arm of a stagehand with a chainsaw (fake blood was used).
After Andy came the writers and Conan's new warm-up guy, a true comic's comic and Chicago's own, Jimmy Pardo. The fast talking, wise-cracking Pardo's set was one of the highlights of the show. At one point he even made fun of ME for not laughing as I watched him in awe. It was an honor to be goofed on by such talent.
Conan's writers' sets also contributed a lot to the show. Mostly set-up and punchline guys, they seemed to relish in the opportunity to use their stand up chops and have their own special. Brian Kiley had some great jokes, including "The other day my son talked back to my wife. She asked him to do something and he said 'No, I don't want to.' I pulled him aside and said, 'Listen, You have to teach me how to do that." Another great joke of his was "I went to the doctor and he asked 'Have you had sex in the last seven days?' I said 'No, my birthday is in August."
Closing out the show was another Chicago native and favorite, Deon Cole. Deon joked about being the only African American writer for Conan and how he was the other writers' source for "Everything black." Cole went on to state that not only are white people afraid to use the ATM in front of African Americans, but so is he.
The show was a lot of fun tonight, I'll be sure to post when it airs on TBS. Thanks to my lovely girlfriend who has a silly laugh (identical to Mrs. Krabappel from the Simpsons) for getting us free tickets. Also, I learned two things tonight: 1. Strangers need to learn how to take pictures with an Iphone, and 2. TBS needs better security.
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