AUSTIN– South by Southwest’s comedy offerings began last night and blended the best of comedy and nerdery.
Kicking off the night was a doubleheader of Doug Benson’s “Doug Loves Movies” podcast, first featuring guests Anthony Jeselnik, Kevin Pollak and Dave Foley. In true Texas fashion, the show was all good vibes. When Foley ran out of his Shiner Bock brew, a thoughtful audience member fetched refills, and other audience members followed suit when Doug and Anthony went dry. Way to show the Hollywood folks your hospitality, Texans!
Liquor flow aside, the podcast taping was well-received, and the positive energy continued into the second taping. The crowd went nuts when James Gunn, Rainn Wilson, and Simon Pegg took the stage, and they were noticeably bolder this show, shouting suggestions for years and movie titles during the game.
Following Doug’s podcasts was the first of two Comedy Death Ray shows, produced and MCed by Scott Aukerman. Beginning the show was Pollak, offering a stellar Christopher Walken impression that the crowd completely ate up. Comedian Howard Kremer took the stage next and shared stories about his past in Austin, spent teaching defensive driving classes and going to the Pecan Street Festival (side note: go to that festival for pecans and medieval-size turkey legs).
And Brett Gelman. Geez. He told a fictional short story about Apple’s new iBrain product, a contraption that would think for brainwashed Apple users. The crowd was lulled into silence by the ostensible social commentary on technology, which was soon shattered when the story took an insanely raunchy turn into a graphic sex story.
He sure knew his crowd: Apple products and sex. Nothing better.
Foley then offered some crude but funny stories describing his dwindling middle-aged sex life and divorce. His set did well, but given the content, it perhaps went over a few of the young folks’ heads.
Closing the show was clear crowd favorite Michael Ian Black, who defied the “Don’t Mess With Texas” motto and opened with an uber-ballsy knock on the state’s shittiness. That prompted the only real heckle of the night, but he somehow had the audience eating out of his hand with that opening – perhaps he tapped into our southern self-loathing?
Overall, the comics were on, the crowds were enthusiastic, and good vibes were had all around. Onward to day two!