Review- Eugene Mirman and Pretty Good Friends at Neptune Theatre

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The final show of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival was Pretty Good Friends at the Neptune Theatre on March 31st. It was a showcase with Bobcat Goldthwait as the headliner. As the name implies, the show had several of Mirman’s friends on the bill (i.e. Kristen Schaal, Kurt Braunohler), but it’s actually a misnomer. Along with the other shows in the EMCF this past weekend, Pretty Good Friends is a recurring show in Brooklyn that Mirman hosts.

You could just tell that the comics had a good weekend. This was the last show, and probably the last night in Seattle for each of them. Mirman mentioned enjoying his visit to the Emerald City Comicon. At the beginning of the show Mirman and three other comics came out on stage and played with fire tricks that they’d bought at the magic store in Pike Place Market. It was as close to a stripped-down clubhouse feel as the Neptune could contain.

Kurt Braunohler was the first comic to go up. He immediately had the audience laughing. Everybody that is, except for the couple that were sitting in the section right behind me that wouldn’t shut up all night. Every comic that performed that night had to stop their set and ask them to be quiet. These comics were all pros of course. They made it funny.

Todd Barry was the second to go up. He let us know that he was going to read an article and offer commentary, but not to worry, because he was still going to kill. Barry’s delivery is funny even without jokes. His iconic deadpan took this women’s magazine article to places where the author couldn’t have imagined.

Kristen Schaal was next. She really possesses the stage. It’s hard to tell where the material ends and the riffing begins. It’s not a lot of set-up, punchline, what she does. (Any of the evening’s comics for that matter. That pretty much goes for the whole show.) There’s an off-the-cuff appearance to her style. Something about her performance is jarring, like she’s ready to fight you at any moment. You’re laughing, but nervous. At the end of her set she brought out Braunohler, who’s her writing partner. They did what’s at this point kind of their trademark bit. It’s brilliant.

From where I was sitting I could see Mirman in the wings cracking up during the end Schaal and Braunohler’s shouting and dancing. He wasn’t alone.

This show would have been a great time to see Eugene Mirman perform for the first time. He’s gregarious, and engaging. His jokes come from a place of pointing out silliness, and he injects absurdity into situations where others would use cruelty or malice. Huge laughs, and lots of them. The thing is, a lot of it was old material. People in the audience who saw Mirman last year at the Croc were treated to many of the same visual aides, the same jokes. Great, funny jokes, but still– I’d be remiss if it wasn’t mentioned. Unfortunately, jokes just don’t have the shelf life of songs. You can only hear them so many times.

The final act of the night was Bobcat Goldthwait. He’s a far cry from his Police Academy character. Goldthwait’s been out of stand-up for a number of years. He’s more of a director these days. He makes good and criminally under-viewed films. His stand-up skills may be a bit rusty, but he still knows what he’s doing. Gone is the Grover voice, and in its place is Bobcat’s cutting insights and rage at stupidity and ignorance. He’s specifically political, blue, and about as funny as anyone you’re likely to see on the Neptune’s stage or any other.

My nitpicking aside, this show was outstanding. Any one of the comics on the bill would be worthy of the ticket price. The Mirman and the EMCF should come back to Seattle soon. We’ll go again. Promise.

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