On Friday night, the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival kept the ball rolling with an evening bursting with headlining talent and overflowing with laughs at the Paramount Theater. The first session had names like Chelsea Peretti, Michael Ian Black and Judah Friedlander going on back to back before stand-up powerhouse Bill Burr took things over for the second session.
At festivals like Moontower, comedy nerds experience a tinge of guilt in having to choose between the comedy megastars and the talented comedians lacking the instant name recognition but offering just as many laughs. But how can anyone pass up the chance to see Peretti, Black and Friedlander all in the same show? This headliner showcase was added to Moontower’s schedule well after the original lineup announcement — and it was certainly welcome.
Peretti added a much needed voice for women in a normally male-dominated industry. Moontower has grown immensely compared to last year, and the direction suggests that more female comedians will start to fill the lineup from top to bottom.
Male comedians love focusing on the differences between the sexes, and Peretti kept things even with her own observations, not just on men in general, but men who are comedians — such as their penchant for pretending to hump stools on stage.
Peretti closed out by giving attention to the double standard of how women can’t joke on stage about their periods, but if men had the same monthly problem you know they wouldn’t shut up about it like the rest of their bodily fluids. Her observations are smart and on-point, but you would expect that from someone who’s written for Parks & Rec.
Michael Ian Black then took the stage to deliver his classic material on parenthood. A lot of comedians mine parenting for all of its funny moments, but Black adds his own twist by flat-out calling his kids “shitty” or just “nothing special.” It seems harsh to some, but please remember that hardly anything said by a comedian should be taken seriously. Plus, it’s a candid attitude that some parents could consider taking.
“World Champion” Judah Friedlander ended the first session showcase by showing off what he can do now that his Frank Rossitano days on 30 Rock are behind him. There is quite the difference between the TV character and the on-stage persona of Friedlander. Rossitano was more energetic and pretty much aware of and comfortable with his schlubby attitude and look.
When performing live, Friedlander leaves behind most of Rossitano’s excitability for a more laid-back demeanor while displaying an over-inflated sense of self-esteem. He boasted his proficiency in karate and ass-kicking in every other bit; he also showcased some sharp wit as he directly talked with the audience over how he would solve problems when he becomes president.
All three lit up the stage of Friday’s first session, but later in the evening it was all about Bill Burr. The fiery Massachusetts native is starting his latest tour and the rest of the country has a lot of awesome new material to look forward to when he rolls through town.
Possibly the best part of Burr’s set was the combination of the two different kinds of shows you can expect from Burr. One is the traditional stand-up set where things go smoothly and hilariously, and the other is when he gets fed up with a bad crowd and unleashes a bit of vitriol and tactical f-bombs their way.
The set went mostly smoothly, until he got into the hot topic of gun control and how it was pointless to attempt to get rid of all of the guns already out there. An audience member randomly popped up with “Those guys in Boston were on a list,” or something idiotic to that extent. A groan emanated from the rest of the theater, but Burr’s response is what you would expect from him.
“What the fuck am I supposed to do with that?”
Burr unloaded on the guy for maybe five minutes, but what set it apart from other Burr sets was how the rest of the show didn’t go off the rails; instead, Burr seamlessly segued into the next bit. The same thing happened a few other times in the night, and while Burr might it a bit of a shitshow, from the perspective of a comedy fan it just made the show that much more unique.
There’s only one thing to mull over after the show. Austin has a great reputation among visiting comedians for having great crowds, but do we have the dumbest hecklers?