AUSTIN– The fourth and final day of comedy events during SXSW Interactive (more comedy comes this weekend) kicked off with a taping of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. Before the guests took the stage, Maron chatted a bit about his time in Austin and at SXSW. And man, did he have the Interactive folks pegged: nowhere else, he noted, had he seen such a “focused and intelligent line of bullshit.” Few would disagree.
Doug Benson made a quick cameo first, to the audience’s pleasant surprise. Before long, he and Maron were reading a scene from a story together starring a bear (Benson) and a poodle (Maron). It was adorable and really, really weird.
Following the Benson-Maron duet, several guests took the stage: Nick Yousseff, Jena Friedman, Kurt Braunohler, Brett Gelman, Robert Ben Garant, and Shane Mauss. A lot was said to positive effect, but the best idea to come out of the podcast has to go to Brett Gelman. Three words: WTF: the Musical. Let that idea percolate a while.
The final comedy show for the Interactive folks was, appropriately, a stand-up show case called “Talk Nerdy to Me,” featuring the best of nerd-centered comedy. Shane Mauss returned to MC the show, and was the only comic the entire week ballsy enough to crack a few jokes at Japan’s expense. Laugh to keep from crying, right?
Doug Benson launched into his set first, and he was the first comedian I’ve ever seen tell two jokes at once – one line from one, one line from the other, back and forth. Somehow it worked, and the audience was hysterical throughout the mashup and the rest of his set.
The State alum Thomas Lennon followed Benson. His material mostly worked, but there were a few jokes that simply didn’t land. No matter, though: Lennon simply said, “Fuck that joke!” to much enthusiasm and laughter before moving on. Happy to help prune the set, Tom!
Number three was Eugene Mirman, busy nowadays providing a voice to the Fox animated series Bob’s Burgers. He offered some absurd visuals in the characteristic Mirman style – fake Facebook ads – and also played the theremin (catnip for nerds) while reading humorous fake tweets. Right crowd.
Chris Hardwick was set to close the show. His material focused in hard on nerd culture and hipsterdom, topics with which he clearly has personal familiarity. Not surprisingly, the nerdy audience ate it up.
Then Mauss returned to the stage ostensibly to bid us adieu, but he announced that there was a special surprise guest. None other than Aziz Ansari took the stage for a brief set, talking mostly about the trials and tribulations of dating amidst an enraptured audience.
Judging by the audience’s response to each comic, the “Talk Nerdy to Me” showcase was a success. A fitting close to nerd-heavy SXSW Interactive. Onward we go to SXSW music, where the jeans get tighter, and the hair gets bigger. Stay tuned for more this weekend!