Sketchfest Review: Walking the Room Live Podcast at The Punchline, 2/2/2012

by Stacy Scales on February 4, 2012

Greg Behrendt & Dave Anthony - cuddlaz fo' life!

Before this weekend, I considered myself fairly familiar with the comedy of Greg Behrendt. I knew about his history with Sex and the City, his book that turned into a movie (He’s Just Not That into You), the two books he then co-wrote with his wife, and I’ve seen his standup act multiple times. More importantly, I already subscribe to the Walking the Room podcast. I felt pretty confident that I knew what to expect from Greg (and in this case, Dave Anthony as well). As for the night’s live podcast guest stars, Dave Holmes and Patton Oswalt, I knew both of them from previous work (MTV and United States of Tara, respectively), so I settled into an early weekend with a great seat from the bar at the Punchline and as the show began with Dave and Greg in miscellaneous clown costume pieces, I was in on the joke. For those who were not, though… I can only imagine what the night might have been like for some unsuspecting soul who just happened to be in town on business or something and thought he’d catch a show at a nearby comedy club. I’m sure nothing could have prepared such a person for the foul-mouthed hilarity that took place.

At this point, I should explain that I’m not easily offended. I grew up with four brothers, so fart jokes and cursing are, in fact, funny to me. I fit right in with this group of boys. If you find yourself beginning to read this review and this doesn’t apply to you, be forewarned that this show was definitely a no-holds-barred live, unscripted podcast that took on a life of its own…a life that revolves around enemas and other “shit stories,” as the boys continued to call them all evening. Consider yourself warned, and hopefully you can laugh with the crowd like I did.

As the event began, Greg and Dave took the stage dressed in clown clothing. Greg made a point to compare himself (in a red, yellow, and green striped pair of oversized overalls) to David Lee Roth circa 2012, calling the Roth of today “a little douchey,” but saying that they were “kinda the same dude.” As Dave was calling Greg an “ape,” it began. The first shit story of the night. Dave begins to talk about some crazy baboon gang initiation I won’t go into, but anyone who was turned off in that moment was silently wondering what they were getting into. Greg kept interrupting Dave’s story, though whether to derail it purposely or because he’s easily sidetracked was unclear. At one point Dave insisted, “I’m trying to tell nature stories and you’re ruining everything!” The baboon shit story ended up as a long-winded analogy comparing a foul stench to the Walking the Room podcast, essentially welcoming everyone to the show.

At this point, one of the guys commented on exactly what I was thinking: those who had no idea who Dave and Greg are, or what Walking the Room is, who came because perhaps they wanted to see Patton Oswalt, were in for quite a night. Greg poked fun at himself, saying, “one of those dudes is like fifty! And I think he came with his dad?!” He had, in fact, come with his father, who happened to be sitting not far from me, and who I saw laughing all evening.

Dave began telling the crowd about his hotel room, which was so overly perfumed that he was certain they were trying to cover up something. The highlight of his description was that of a picture hanging near the sink in his hotel bathroom: of a woman cleaning her face in the gutter. This prompted Greg to ask Dave, “are you sure it’s not a rehab?!” Then the guys took a moment to explain to newcomers the idea behind the clown outfits, which stemmed from a group known as “Juggalos” who are clowns from the neck up. As Greg said, they were jugglers who “will fuck you up.” As Greg and Dave had starting referring to their podcast as the “podcuddle,” they began to refer to those who listen regularly as “cuddlaz.” It’s possible that this explanation for clown clothes doesn’t suffice for everyone, but most of us were laughing our way through it anyway.

Dave’s clown pants were not his own, he explained. His next story explained how he took his clown suit off after the last time he wore it, threw it in his closet, and left it there in a ball. The story got off on a tangent about sex when Dave explained that his mother-in-law has been sleeping on the couch in his home. Amazingly, though, these two are experts at going off on hilarious, random, and often graphic tangents, and then coming right back to the original thread and picking up where they left off. Dave went right back to his story about how his cats were pissed off at the smell of his mother-in-law (perfume and cigarettes, of course), and so have taken to peeing in his closet…where his clown suit was. He went on to explain how he’d cut his clown suit in half because after washing it, it had become too tight in the “ball area,” giving him “mammal toe.” As such, he’d borrowed the clown pants he wore for the evening from a “cuddlah.”

The mother-in-law stuff was just getting started, though. Dave’s next tale involved coming home to find her playing with his son, with several boxes of CVS home enemas sitting still in their bags from a recent shopping trip. Greg pointed out that now, any time Dave sees water anywhere in his home, he’ll be wondering what she’s been up to. As it turned out, the clown suit story that led to the mother-in-law enema story would set the tone for the whole evening, as we never really did get away from shit stories for the rest of the night.

With that, first guest Dave Holmes was introduced, who promptly admitted that he found Dave’s story “homo repellent.” A tangent followed: a brief conversation about the Right Wing’s complaints that certain things “promote” homosexuality, prompting Greg to admit he wanted to see promotion in the form of commercials. When someone commented that Neil Patrick Harris is doing a good job of promoting, Anthony chimed in, “so is Travolta!” This began a bit about Travolta movie Battlefield Earth, adapted from the L. Ron Hubbard book of the same name. After asking the crowd if anyone had seen it, Holmes laughed at those who raised their hands in the dark. Dave Anthony told a story about seeing the film, booing with a friend when Hubbard’s name came on the screen (though fans behind them stood up and cheered). The scariest part? At the close of the film, men with clipboards grilled viewers about their opinions – literally trying to recruit them for Scientology. Wow.

And then…Dave Holmes brought up those enemas again, saying he’d recently had a colonic. Greg interrupted, saying he didn’t trust Holmes’s asshole, to which Holmes said, “you should. It’s trustworthy. Check Yelp.” His colonic story involved the woman who administered it, who turned out to be a self-professed “voyeur,” who was essentially a former drug addict who’d found a new addiction in colonics. Greg remarked about random things one might see coming out: dice, for example, or a doll head, and then talks about having had a colonic experience of his own, but somehow he ended up getting cut in the process. Finally, he admitted, “it may not have been a colonic…it may have been her wedding ring.” And then he remembered his dad was in the audience, and began to sing and scat. The next tangent went back to David Lee Roth, and then back to colonics, insisting to the crowd that this is all stuff you can do it at home. “You know when it’ll come out? When it wants to!”

As the guys began to notice how long they’d been sitting on stage talking about defecation, Dave Holmes pointed out that the show began with the baboon story in the first place. “That was nature,” Dave Anthony insisted. Greg wasn’t quite ready to let the colonics go, though, saying “there’s always one friend who swears it’s amazing.” Dave Anthony pointed out that it’s no different with Scientology. Finally, a moment’s respite from all the crap talk, Holmes got a chance to plug his own podcast for a minute. A Drink with Dave is sporadic, he lamented. When he called Greg’s outfit a Fruit Stripe costume, Greg shouted, “that gum is fucked!” The rant that followed, though, was hilarious – he got a bit worked up in that moment. The basis of Greg’s anger was that every time he’s tempted to buy the sugary, brightly-packaged gum, he tells himself it’ll be different. But every time…the gum loses its flavor when you unwrap it. He concluded with, “Fuck you, Fruit Stripe!”

And then we found ourselves back at shit stories. Dave Holmes admitted that he had an unbelievable one from his MTV days, where he’d worked on pilot episodes for MTV specials. One show in particular was to be called Dude, This Sucks, and would involve crazy talents: “like the gong show, but updated.” I’m not going to launch into a play-by-play of his long and memorable tale, but I absolutely urge you to download the podcast so you can listen for yourselves. Honestly, it’s not something you’ll soon forget. Actual epic tale aside, though, the highlights included Holmes’s admission that he tried to be the voice of reason amidst far too many yes-men, always to no avail. And interestingly, I’m still giggling to think that meeting the members of 98 Degrees would make teenage girls so quickly forget a horrific experience. Hey, Nick Lachey, who knew? Anyway, after Holmes’s story had finished, Dave Anthony insisted he had to leave. There was nothing else that could be said after a story like that one.

As second special guest Patton Oswalt was introduced, he came directly to the stage pointing out the painted backdrop of the San Francisco skyline, saying that as Holmes was telling his story, he saw three little men jump to their death behind the comics. Dave (Anthony) tried to describe the crazy reactions he’d been witnessing from members of the audience, but Greg quickly pointed out that we were a community of people who like “shitty podcasts, and other people who tell stories about people shitting on other people.” So, two thirds into the evening, it was obvious that the podcast subject had been determined: there was no getting away from “shit stories” that evening.

Patton directed the conversation back to Dave’s mother-in-law, asking if she knew Dave had seen her bag full of enemas. Dave said he thought the bag was obvious, as it was out in the open, but maybe she’d thought it was more hidden than it actually was. Patton instructed, “act surprised on your birthday!” Greg, however, was sure she was marking her territory. At this point, it really did seem to me that all three wanted to steer the show away from the subject of fecal matter, and Dave admitted to having been the “shit comic” in his San Francisco days due to all his crap jokes. He then asked, “can we stop?” Patton, though, told the crowd he’d be going to “a Haight St enema shop” the following day, in case any of us wanted to join him.

Another tangent led us away from the theme, this time Patton telling a story about Greg’s wedding and his apparent ADD, which prompted the story in the first place. Evidently, Greg’s wife Amiira had had to tug on him during the ceremony because he was so caught up in staring at the cake that his mind had wandered away from his own wedding. Greg laughed, saying “it was cake time!” Not long after, Patton conceded that they really should have ended the podcast with Dave Holmes’s story. Greg said they had no way of knowing what was coming, calling Holmes’s tale “fecal gold.” Patton countered by pointing out the lull of laughter: “you can’t follow that.” The conversation led naturally then to Dave Holmes himself as Greg recanted the tale of how Holmes lost MTV’s Wanna Be a VJ contest (to the eccentric Jesse Camp), saying Holmes eventually “ran the other dude off the road,” and that he’d done the same to Patton with his story that night. Patton laughed, saying, “remember he said it would just take three minutes?” This bit concluded with them calling Holmes’s story “the War and Peace of shit stories.”

Greg began a story of his own, then, saying that he knows what he looks like, and that for some reason, he has the kind of face that makes people want to pick fights with him. He went on to tell a story about a visit to a Starbucks in the middle of rural California and how some “big dude” nearly started a fight with him over a rolled up ball of paper (likely the straw wrapper). Hands down, the best parts of this tale were Greg’s admission that while this big guy stared him down, he “stood and shook,” and Patton’s question: “didn’t you see the Dateline about the Buttonwillow I-5 paper flicker murder gang?” Awesome. And a nice break from poop tales.

Somehow, the conversation strayed to Twitter. Specifically, Dave Anthony’s Twitter. Allegedly, if Twitter had a stab function like Facebook’s “poke,” Dave would be all stabs by his “friends.” And then…back to the enemas. Apparently, none of these guys could leave that alone. Patton suggested that Dave take those boxes, set the table for a nice, fancy, candelit dinner, and leave one at each setting without saying a word. Greg admitted, “power move, dude.” Somehow, a Myspace rant ensued from Greg, and I got lost in it somewhere. I heard him say it was still loading from 2008, that he was friends with Pizza Hut, that he really wanted us to hear his awesome NewfoundGlory songs, and I got lost in what he was trying to say. Dave and I must have been on the same page, because he admitted, “this is the shit I’d normally edit out later.”

Next topic: gay bars! As Greg called them, “classic, old school, Tenderloin, self-loathing, weird old gay guys – not the normal Castro.” He told a story about a man in one such bar called the White Swallow Bar, and someone chastised, “don’t push forward stereotypes!” One of the best punch lines of the night followed: “not all gays like birds?” That’s my kind of humor. Patton laughed that Greg’s story was before the subtle, clever gay bar names. Again, Greg remembered that his dad was in attendance, shouting out to him from the stage. Patton insisted that perhaps Greg’s dad would have been more proud to watch his son shoot people from a clock tower, and then…I’m not ashamed to admit this: this part of the show is where I laughed the hardest of the whole night. Dave interrupted to confess (and I believe he was quite serious), “I just laughed so hard I farted and saw stars!” Of course, this led to a conversation about Greg looking up “fart stars” on WebMD, and Dave concluding that the podcast would inevitably be titled “shit and fart stars,” but Patton’s was the best: “What Can Brown Do for You?”

After a tale told by Greg about his misadventures as a comic on Star Search, when judge Candace Cameron had to be told she couldn’t give him zero stars, he managed to advance nonetheless. Amazingly, he was recognized the following day – his day off – by a woman with her kids, who actually persuaded the entire bus to boo him. Dave quipped, “you’re the Rosa Parks of Star Search?” He defended his comment, explaining that it is February, after all, and Black History Month. Greg asked the audience to edit his Wikipedia page to include that he’s known as the “Rosa Parks of Star Search,” which had me cracking up. As of the minute I’m writing this, it does in fact say so. As Greg said, I’m sure it’ll be deleted before too long, but that’s fantastic to find that it’s actually there as he asked!

When Dave asked Patton if he would claim his visit to the podcast on his taxes, Patton joked that he’d claim it as a dependent, and that it also offset his carbon footprint. Then, Patton asked a great question: instead of “cuddlaz,” why don’t you call your followers “huggalos?” Dave told a story about the days of the Holy City Zoo comedy club, where he learned how to do stand-up. He told about a famous themed mic night, and how his attempt to get everyone who graced the stage on one particular evening to “touch a fish” turned into chasing all the comics around, trying to get them to touch the fish, instead of much stand-up. As he put it, all the comics “lost their minds” over it. The mention of the Holy City Zoo brings Patton to a story about a comic named Larry “Bubbles” Brown. During this comic’s act, passersby asked what kind of comic he was, and perfectly timed, the door swung open to let them hear Larry “Bubbles” Brown shout, “suck it, whore!” and then closed again. After Greg told a bit about Robin Williams and the same club, Dave realized that someone near the front of the crowd had actually fallen asleep. Greg asked if it was, “booze? Pills? Boredom?” Booze, she admitted. Patton defended her, saying that “crocodiles can be put to sleep with shit stories.”

And finally, with a bit that would only make sense to regular followers, Patton told a story about a man who shamelessly pulls up to yard sales as they’re closing and asks them to give him everything, asking whether it was “hobotang?” Greg agreed, saying it was “pro hobotang – it’s probotang!” And with an announcement from Dave about a podcast-fest called LA Podfest, the show concluded. I felt a bit dazed, to be honest, by all the “shit stories,” but I had a great time. I’m a huge fan of Greg’s in general, and I thoroughly enjoyed each comic and his addition to the night’s witty banter, even when it got a bit dodgy. Seriously, I won’t soon forget Dave Holmes’s legendary story, and it sure as hell beats a night with nothing to do. Thanks for the laughs, boys!

Stacy Scales

California native. Word nerd. Music lover. Linguaphile. Amateur foodie. Basketball junkie. Travel enthusiast.

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