Sketchfest really killed it this year, as usual. A lot of shows sold out quickly. However, the quickest sell out was Jenny Slate & Friends at The Brava Theater. Jenny Slate’s star seems to be on the rise swiftly. She starred in Obvious Child, my favorite film of 2014. Her web series Marcel The Shell With Shoes On and Catherine are both works of epic genius. It seems that everything she touches turns to gold. However, I’ve never seen her do stand up. Even a cursory YouTube search proved difficult in terms of finding any clips of her doing live comedy. It seems tonight was a very special and somewhat rare experience.
Jenny’s first “friend,” Ron Funches is a national hero. Seriously. It doesn’t make sense to me that he isn’t a household name. His soft, gentle tone contrasts sharply against his biting wit. He is the most unexpected comic, and his 30 minute set was a work of genius. He kept pulling out subtle one liners that had me in literal tears. Although his best stuff came when he would reference his Mother, and how racial unrest in the 60’s informed her view of white people, and how different it is from his experiences. Not going to give away any punchlines, but this bit did include a performance of “Linger” by The Cranberries.
Max Silvestri followed Funches. I did not envy him. Silvestri was good, doing a pleasant set of observational humor. He was actually quite good. He just wasn’t a genius. He still got a very warm reception from the crowd, and I would definitely enjoy seeing him again when he doesn’t have to contend with playing after somebody great.
Jenny Slate did not disappoint. She actually did two sets tonight- one warm up set as host, and one full set as headliner. I think she may have had a total of an hour’s worth of time on stage. For most people, that’s a pretty solid amount of comedy. Slate, however, was so impressive and likeable and funny, that if she did another two hours, is still wouldn’t have felt like enough.
Her style is frantic and a little chaotic. She moves around the stage like a cross between a hyperactive child and a cat. She kept knocking over the mic stand, just for the thrill of watching it fall. She explained why she’s a “Jenny” and not a “Jennifer.” She talked at length about the movie Space Jam. So much so, that I feel like I’ve seen the movie now. Her stand up set is so good and tight that she’s ready to move up to the big rooms. And, by big rooms, I mean following her Parks & Rec castmate Aziz Ansari to the arenas.