Sketchfest Review: Stella at Mezzanine, 1/21/12

by Christopher Rogers on January 30, 2012

Spinning Platters’ writers Christopher Rogers and Dakin Hardwick both got to enjoy a performance by Stella: Michael Ian Black, David Wain, and Michael Showalter‘s nightclub show.

Instead of boring you with a typical “review” of the show, Spinning Platters is opening the fourth wall, and allowing you into the personal lives of these two legendary journalists. This is a transcript of a private chat between the two, discussing the show on Google Chat.

After the jump, you will learn how a writer thinks.

Christopher: Hey hey! Just got home. Making hot chocolate.

Dakin: Nice. Can I have some?

Christopher: 😀 Back in like 4 minutes. Gonna take my shoes off and I’ll be ready.

Dakin: OK.

Christopher: KK.

Dakin: kangaroo kryptonite?

Christopher: (Nooo! Then kangaroos would lose their power to fly!)

Dakin: Just a warning, I’ve got a cat in my lap.

Christopher: 😀

Dakin: And, you really don’t understand Kangaroo Kryptonite.
It works like backwards of Superman.
They fly better.

Christopher: Ah. I see. Here’s the names of everyone who was onstage last night.

Dakin: Ah, David Wain… So professional, all the time.

Christopher: ha ha ha

Dakin: He seems like the most organized member of the group.

Christopher: He’s perfect as the voice of The Warden on Superjail.

Dakin: Superjail?

Christopher: Yes yes.

Dakin: What were your thoughts on Release The Sunbird?

Christopher: I quite enjoyed them. They seemed to fit well with the calm chaos of the evening. That’s both a compliment and a damning statement, in that when they played their own music, they became background music.

Dakin: Yeah, I kind of agree…

Christopher: The Talking Heads cover (“Road To Nowhere”) was pleasant. I dug that.

Dakin: It’s Zach Rogue from Rogue Wave‘s side band, and I thought they suffered from a lot of the same pitfalls of his main band.  They are pleasant, but I can’t actively listen to them.

Christopher: Ahh, I see.

Dakin: The bass player and drummer seemed to be having a ball backing up Stella, though.

Christopher: Oh yeah. I have shots with the guitar player shooting with his iPhone while behind the comedians.

Dakin: That’s funny. I was wondering if they were fans.

Christopher: Sure looked like it.

Dakin: So, which one did you think was the best dancer? [All three members of Stella had arrived on stage dancing.]

Christopher: Oh, god. 

Dakin: I’m still voting for Wain

Christopher: That’s like trying to choose which one is best between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — they’re all so existentially entwined!
Wain won. ‘Tis true.

Dakin: I really couldn’t believe how intertwined they all were. I’ve never seen a group seem so interconnected.

Christopher: It’s true — the timing and the interplay… so obviously earned over years and years of working together.

Dakin: Yeah… At first, when they decided to go into the Wet Hot American Summer stuff, I was kind of bummed about missing it, but they were so silly about it, it was great.

Christopher: Yeah, it became a little “inside baseball”-y but it was still brutally funny when Black and then Wain started kissing the co-star who Showalter was supposed to be still hung up on.

Dakin: Marguerite Moreau?

Christopher: Yuss.

Dakin: She is still super cute…

Christopher: Indeed. 😉

Dakin: I am really happy that she came out for that. And, of course, making out is always funny.

Christopher: Yes, yes it is. 😉

Dakin: It was better that Black got to brag about having a love scene with the sexiest man alive. [Bradley Cooper was named People Magazine’s 2011 Sexiest Man Alive.]

Christopher: INDEED. SO HOT.

Dakin: Which reminds me… Do you think Bradley Cooper is the sexiest man alive? After last night, I still think that it should’ve gone to Paul Rudd.

Christopher: I…
It’s still between Harrison Ford and you for that top spot as far as I’m concerned.

Dakin: I don’t know how I feel about that.

Christopher: HA HA HA HA HA HA.

Dakin: Have you seen [the movie] Morning Glory? Dear…

Christopher: I haven’t seen Morning Glory. I am now Googlin’ it.

Dakin: Well, Harrison Ford looks like a robot ghost throughout the whole film

Christopher: HA HA HA HA HA! Oh, wow; brutal!

Dakin: Yeah. I can be. Speaking of brutal… How about those comedians? Kidding. I actually really enjoyed them.

Christopher: Yes! Back to the comedians. Yes. Ron Funches I really enjoyed.

Dakin: Have you seen Stella before?

Christopher: I’d never seen them live, but I’ve been a huge huge fan of their 10-episode series on Comedy Central. Had you seen them before? (We’ll get back to Funches in a sec.)

Dakin: I was, as well… But I was a much bigger fan of The State…. But, no, I’ve never seen them live before. That’s why I was surprised about the comedians.

Christopher: Yeah, I’d expected the night to be just them doing sketches, but upon re-reading the program, it seemed that they’d mounted shows like that as a group and that was what they were goin’ for. I loved The State too. Just saw their DVD package last year while Molly [Christopher’s girlfriend] was laid-up post-accident.

Dakin: I made an “I Wanna Dip My Balls In It” crack at work today, and two of my younger coworkers had no idea what I was talking about.

Christopher: OHHHH NO. Wow. Man, what was that? ’95?

Dakin: Wow. 1993. Feeling damn old now.

Christopher: Same. Thx Wikipedia.

Dakin: I really dug that none of the comics were billed

Christopher: Yeah; it was a “curated session.” Very All Tomorrow’s Parties.

Dakin: They were all surprise guests, but all pretty big.

Christopher: Yeah, yeah.

Dakin: Yeah, only ATP tells you in advance

Christopher: OK, Funches. Tell me how he struck you? I really enjoyed his laconic slow-as-molasses style of storytelling.

Dakin: I enjoyed him

Christopher: Of course, I’m a sucker for a punchline that goes: “That is a conversation I had with a kitty-cat several weeks ago.”

Dakin: Yes, yes…

Christopher: Not to mention punctuating a “fat pussy” punchline with “ASSORTED CHOCOLATES!”

Dakin: I laughed again, although I had a conversation with my cat earlier today.

Christopher: That was pure goodness. Yes, I had a conversation with my cat earlier today as well. I lost.

Dakin: Although the first thing I thought when he threw out the chocolates? “The man was covered in sweat. Just dripping.”

Christopher: Yeargh.

Dakin: There is no way that his pocket chocolate was edible.

Christopher: I’d like to be able to say here that it’d be the thought that counted, and it did… but still. Uggh.
Next: Will Franken.

Dakin: So good. I love Will Franken, but I really dug that PE teacher bit he was doing

Christopher: Cool, cool. Yeah, his targets are very carefully strafed. I really like watching him work. The feminism conference vs porn thing he did at the end was devastating. And brilliant and so so spot-on.

Dakin: I’m pretty sure I started tearing up during his set.

Christopher: Yeah, his work doesn’t have rim-shots but rather it compels the viewer along the path of his choosing. It’s excellent, agile work.

Dakin: Jessi Klein? I have always liked her work, but I was a little let down last night.

Christopher: She… yeah. It really felt like she was trying too hard.

Dakin: I thought she did a little too much typical relationship humor.

Christopher: And I felt like that made her set drag for me. That was the first time I thought about who or what act might be next.

Dakin: Same here. Which is why I was so excited when Paul Rudd came out with his claw hands. [Rudd carried a running joke started before came onstage about “his terrible lobster hands” far longer than he had to, gripping the microphone to his face with both of his palms.]

Christopher: She was winsome enough when she wasn’t forcing-the-ball. Yes, precisely. He hammered that joke wellllll past the point where it was funny and brought it back to a point where it was even funnier. It was brilliant. I made sure to get a couple shots of him still using his terrible lobster hands. Such a burden, I’d imagine.

Dakin: Yes. And when he made fun of as many State sketches as he could in 5 minutes? Brilliant?

Christopher: It was mind-rending.

Dakin: How does he get so much work with those hands, anyways?

Christopher: Well, with effects nowadays, he can pass for human on film.

Dakin: I guess you don’t see him holding things often in movies.

Christopher: Industrial Light And Magic, and Weta Workshop — all the big names in special effects have worked on Paul Rudd films. And that drives up their budget, but the studios feel that he’s worth it.

Dakin: Of course! It’s Paul Rudd!

Christopher: Yes!

Dakin: On the list of performers I never thought I’d see live: [Upright Citizens Brigade co-founder] Matt Besser.

Christopher: Yeah, that was certainly a surprise. How did you feel about his puppy talk?

Dakin: I loved puppy talk.

Christopher: It was very good. Very solid.

Dakin: I really enjoyed that he actually made a woman pick one to adopt.

Christopher: I would almost say it felt a little canned. It was good, but it felt safe. I think that’s mostly just me projecting. Yeah! I liked that part. It humanized the bit.

Dakin: It seemed like the most “controlled” set, but it was still good.

Christopher: Yes, certainly agree with that statement.

Dakin: But, yeah, he’s better when he’s edgier.

Christopher: Right, right.

Dakin: Still mad that Crossballs was canceled

Christopher: It was an idea before its time.

Dakin: True, true. My cat fell asleep on my notes

Christopher: ADORBS.

Dakin:This is all based on memory, now.

Christopher: Next is Brent Weinbach, wielding his mic like a defensive weapon.


Christopher: Molly’s cat is curled up on the backing of the couch behind my shoulders, so I do have access to my notes. But for how long?

Dakin: The dangers of keeping kitties around

Christopher: Yes.

Dakin: But, seriously. When he did that bit in gibberish? Genius.

Christopher: That was lovely.

Dakin:I will now and forever picture Charles Bronson as an old Filipino man

Christopher: Then he revealed that he was doing an impression of one of his Filipino uncles. Adorable and incisive and affectionate all at once.
Yes! That!

Dakin: It was kind of like Margaret Cho‘s mom

Christopher: “MORANNNN!”

Dakin: ?

Christopher: Oh, when M.Cho would pretend to open windows in her mother’s voice and shout her name “MORAANNNNN” out of them like extras in an opera song

Dakin: Ahh… I guess that brings us to Bobcat Goldthwait.

Christopher: But yes, for all the practiced stodginess of Weinbach’s comedy, it’s surprising fluid and shifts dramatically from joke to joke. He’s almost the math rock of comedy.
Yes, Bobcat.
And “Robert.”
Best line from that entire part:

Goldthwait: “I thought ‘Bobcat’ wouldn’t age well-”

Michael Ian Black: “And he didn’t, he didn’t!”

Brought down the house.

Dakin: I like that bit about being the “math rock” of comedy. Yes, Goldthwait. I never liked him growing up.

Christopher: Anyways, yeah, Goldthwait onstage is such a multi-leveled viewing experience — he’s at once a grizzled veteran and yet still trying new things.

Dakin: I really enjoyed how terrible he was as Robert, though

Christopher: I did like him growing up, I do have to say. His work spoke to me.

Dakin: His work speaks to me know. Er, now.

Christopher: Yes, exactly — he’s still willing to try things that might clunk. Hmm, when I put it that way, it contrasts with Besser’s bit.

Dakin: The man is a genius.

Christopher: Oh yes.

Dakin: Also, he totally ripped on Klein.

Christopher: That part was grand. Then Stella came out repeatedly to “help” him.

Dakin: So good. Of course, any spare stage time with those 3 guys is a good thing

Christopher: Oh yes.

Dakin: So, Stella. 2 1/2 hours of pure entertainment. Yes or No?

Christopher: Yes. The joy of impromptu comedy in full flower.

Dakin: Yes, yes, and yes.

Christopher: There were different tempos and textures of comedy on display, all of them curated by the raw direct style of the Stella boys.

Dakin: I couldn’t have said it better myself. So I won’t.

Christopher: And all of those folks who came by felt free to try their own thing on the Stella stage.

Dakin: Which was very cool.

Christopher: Yes, yes. How else would you describe the evening?

Dakin: More fun than standing around in the rain? Like, a lot more fun.

Christopher: Certainly. And drier.

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Christopher Rogers

Christopher Rogers is a journalist / developer / enthusiast from and about the San Francisco Bay Area. His favorite secret about the SF Bay Area is that -- --- --- ---- ---- ---- - -- ------ ----, --- - ---'- ------ ------, -- ------ --- -------.

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