Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal bowed for about a minute and a half in appropriate mock theatricality as they took the stage together for a rare co-headlining show at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre on June 27.
The Flight of the Conchords co-stars didn’t fill the 1,200 seat venue, but the crowd that was gathered there stayed energetically giddy for two hours in which Mirman and Schaal performed together and apart and then together again, like a Billy Joel/Elton John show with fewer ballads and far more irony.
Schaal was up first, with a forty minute set that showcased her ability to slip from surreal to sweet to sexy/creepy (at least when she was crawling along the edge of the stage) with hilarious results. I was curious to see what she’d do in a solo live show, especially after seeing her kill in the Comedy Tent at this year’s Bonnaroo Arts and Music Festival. But that short set was with her sometimes-partner Kurt Braunohler, in an act that played like a bizarre take on the classic comedy duo model. (At one point, Schaal galloped across the stage as Braunohler sung “Kristen Schaal is a horse” over and over again until his voice took on lunatic shrillness and she was near collapse.)
At the Wilbur, Schaal was sans Braunohler but had a great act to do solo. She paid tribute to Michael Jackson, Farah Fawcett, and Ed McMahon with a toast, drinking Pepsi, Slim Fast and mayonnaise in their honor. With Mirman’s help, she acted out a pilot she said she’d recently written called “My Wife, the Vacuum.” Then, there was a bit where she slow-danced with a man in a tuxedo wearing a horse’s head. It was confusing.
Mirman (who grew up outside of Boston) followed Schaal by showing a few videos that you’d have to live in New England to find funny, and, as the whole crowd was from New England, this was a good decision. A lot of what I enjoy in Mirman’s act, whenever I’ve seen him, is the way he turns the notion of “found” comedy completely on its head, manufacturing letters of complaint to airlines or (in the case of Saturday’s show) local police departments, and loading them with so many ridiculous non-sequiturs that the whole thing seems to revel in and mock its own silliness all at once.
When Schaal reemerged at the end of Mirman’s set, she shared what might have been the strangest moment of the night. Apparently, during the course of the show, the performers learned that the feed from their wireless mics was somehow being transmitted over the PA system of the show in the theater next door, a production of The Color Purple. It might have ruined the play, but it’s hard to think of The Color Purple ever being that funny again.
Check out a video of Mirman and Schaal backstage after the show.