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Minnesota Fringe Festival: An Agony of Fools
CAVEAT: Ben and I have worked together *extensively* for the past several years, making this pretty much the freaking definition of a conflict of interest. As for why I’m bothering to put together some thoughts anyway, please check out Notes on Notes.
DESCRIPTION: No journey of self-discovery. No deep reveal. Only a slight chance of dancing. Cleanse your palate with a new comedy hour from the creator of “Minnesota Middle Finger” and “A Nice Guy’s Guide to Awkward Sex.”
It doesn’t look like this show needs much help from me – his initial audience was packed, and eating it up with a spoon – so I’ll limit myself to two brief observations:
1) He remains one of the finest stand-up comics I’ve ever seen; and
2) What was most striking about his show for me – as someone who’s been a fan of his since, like, 2005 – is how radically evolved his stage persona is. I mean, I’ve seen most of these routines being worked at open-mics for the past couple of months, but I wasn’t really struck by this until I saw his new material laid out in long-form. There’s a slightly darker edge to some of his material than usual – anal rape jokes, dick jokes, et cetera – but nothing more shocking than what you’d see just about any night in a comedy club; it’s shocking here because he’s built his career on a clean, accessible, nice-guy persona. Which is, for the most part, intact – he gets away with the dirtier stuff because he still seems so disarmingly sweet – but there’s a brashness now, a hint of audience hostility. The mumbling and shuffling’s mostly gone, replaced with both speed and confidence. All of these are factors that increase my interest – I’ve always been fond of bluer material – but I’m truly curious to see what other audiences make of it. And now that I’ve written my thoughts, I can go read theirs.
Questions? Comments? Enraged invective? Check out my answers to occasionally asked questions in Notes on Notes, or the contact info linked from that page!