Before the pandemic I used to love going out to the local comedy club – all that shared laughter could take the weight of the world off my shoulders. It’s the one thing I missed most of all, entertainment-wise.
I’ve tried to compensate by streaming some older shows (Kathleen Madigan’s “Gone Madigan” & “Bothering Jesus” were two favorites)
But it’s not quite the same as being in that audience.
So, the subject is live stand-up comedy, shows you actually went to, and were in the audience for.
Joe Machi - offbeat, I’ve seen some clips, but he was so much better in a live setting, the energy in the room, the material. Great show
Emo Philips - surreal, idiosyncratic, side-splittingly funny (and after telling one odd story, he looked at me, gestured, and said… "And you think your weird? )
Jim Gaffigan - I saw Gaffigan at a Zanies when I was living in Nashville, back when all he had out was a few CDs and that Comedy Central Presents special. A guy at the table in front of us actually fell out of his seat from laughing so hard… and I thought that was just a figure of speech.
The Smothers Brothers - I caught them on their farewell tour -and they were still as engaging and funny and as musically accomplished as ever.
Those were my favorites, but others I enjoyed live were Maria Bamford, Jay Leno (before his Tonight Show days, when he was still funny), Todd Glass, and Frank Caliendo.
Sadly, George Carlin - this was in the later, grumpy stage of his career, where all he did was rant and rave and not in a funny way. I liked early George, the hippy wordsmith who looked at the absurdities of life.
Wish I’d seen them live?
While not stand-up, the last thing I got to go to before the lockdown, was the MST3K show - with that in mind I liked Joel even before MST, doing his routines on Letterman and SNL. I’ve also caught clips of a young J.Elvis on stage (very funny), would have loved to have been at one of their stand-up shows.
I saw Carlin a few times, also later in his career. They certainly weren’t the Place For My Stuff kind of shows I memorized growing up, but I’m glad I saw him. Ditto Kids in the Hall, who I think I’ve seen on two of their reunion tours, maybe three.
My favorite was probably Eddie Izzard. That’s just freakish talent right there.
In the “wish I’d seen” category, this is my stock answer to the “if you had a time machine” question. Eliminating all of the noble options, if I could only go to one time/place for my own enjoyment it would be Steve Martin at Universal Amphitheatre, LA, September 9, 1978. It was filmed and used as the live portion of the Wild and Crazy Guy TV special.
The opening act? The Blues Brothers. Their set was recorded and became Briefcase Full of Blues.
I’m so not the target audience for these kinds of things. I’ve been to two live music concerts and one standup comedy show in my life. However the comedy show was Margaret Cho and it was her Cho Revolution tour, so it was a good one.
If you’re curious who the two live bands were, the first was one-hit wonder The Producers, and the other was lifelong love Shriekback. I actually got to belt out a line of the song Nemesis during that concert.
I really liked Maria Bamford. I always love how open about mental illness she is (we both have bipolar II, or as she calls it, “the new gladiator sandal”), and seeing her live did not disappoint. I also saw her do a livestream show with Jackie Kashian opening, who was also great. If you can see a Maria Bamford show with Jackie Kashian opening, do it! So good.
I am going to see Patton Oswalt at the Kennedy Center (which requires proof of vaccination) tonight. I saw him do a livestream show last year that was great. Somehow, this is my first time seeing him live.
I saw Eddie Izzard in St. Louis years ago. She was excellent. I saw her do a livestream last year, and she did not disappoint.
Saw Kids In The Hall way back in 2008. They were hilarious.
I also have seen Lewis Black (20 years ago when I was in college) and Craig Ferguson. In fact, the Craig Ferguson tickets were a Christmas gift from my husband that year. There are other comedians I have seen, too, but those were the ones I can remember.
Also saw Cheech and Chong not too long before the pandemic. Got upgraded to front row seats for free for that one (it was in a casino, and the owners make sure most of the front section seats are full before they walk the high rollers through–it’s an odd display). That show was entertaining, but not fantastic.
Saw a couple of acts that appeared on America’s Got Talent: Piff the Magic Dragon was tons of fun. Saw Taylor Williamson on a bad night, unfortunately (he even told us at the beginning of his performance that were getting exhausted angry Taylor–he bombed quite awkwardly), but the warmup acts were hilarious at least.
On this side of the Atlantic, Dara o briain, ed Byrne, Russell Howard and Milton Jones are brilliant comics to Google if you need some funnies. But I also like bill engvall and Stewart Francis , so make of that what you will.
I used to do stand-up myself and had a lot of bad experiences, so I don’t watch stand-up very often, but I did enjoy seeing Scott Thompson, Dmitri Martin and Greg Proops not long before COVID at different venues.
My favorite was seeing Nick Offerman live. He is a sweet, wonderful man, and quite a storyteller. To top it all off, he ended the show with a Bye Bye Little Sebastian singalong. It was a great time. I’d love to sit down and have a beer - or a Lagavulin - with him.
Happy to say I got to see Mitch Hedberg live at the Riverside in Milwaukee once. It was fun to watch Mitch go off script and just kinda wander around onstage improvising.
My favorite presumably off-the-cuff bit came when he noticed the stage’s gigantic curtains, muttering something like “haha, I like these curtains, man… check this out, SEE YA!” as he grabbed the curtain and spun around, wrapping himself up completely. After a pause, he continued by saying “this is like when your mom took you shopping as a kid, and you hid inside the pants!” Got a huge laugh from me.
OMG, I gave my best friend Craig Ferguson tickets for Xmas one year! We went and saw him in Nashville; he was amazing. Came galloping out on stage and flung his mic stand around like Freddie Mercury lassoing a cow. Amazing.
I’ve seen a couple other comedians, but Craig was my fave. I would’ve loved to see Carlin in his prime (I practically have his “Jammin in New York” special memorized), and among current comedians, I would love to see Patton Oswalt, Gabriel Iglesias, Lewis Black, and Aisling Bea.
I don’t know if it’s the same for you, or something else, but… I’m a homebody, don’t like crowds, don’t want to sit with strangers, don’t like hunting for parking or fighting traffic (and BTW, “Dang smoochers get off my property!”)… but for some reason I make an exception for comedy. It’s nice pick-me-up and escape from the cares of the world.
I wish I could have seen more shows before the pandemic hit, but I’m so out of the loop lately. I don’t who I’d like among the newer comedians.
We sure did - R.I.P Norm. You can put him on my wishlist, I’d have seen him in a heartbeat if he’d had a show anywhere near me.
That’s part of it, yes. I’m just not good with crowds. I also don’t like being obligated to be somewhere, it immediately makes me conscious that I can’t leave if I want to. (Well, I can, but then not much point in having gone.) Plus with things like movies I like to be able to pause or wind it back if I miss something. And I’m very easily distracted, so I end up trying to block out the crowd and then not enjoying the event as much.
Those are all reasons why I stopped playing music live. I couldn’t enjoy myself. I’ve missed some great shows as a result. I’ve been spoiled by all these livestreams the last year and change. I REALLY must want to see a performer if I’m going to a show around people.