AUSTIN — Hey hey, everybody! I’m back for my third year of sharing some of the lovely comedic jewels of Austin, Texas’s South by Southwest with you friendly Laughspin readers. This year, the fest has bulked up its comedy offerings substantially: three different venues with simultaneous shows, podcast tapings, stand-up showcases, parties, mass hysteria. Get ready, because it’s about to get real.
It seemed fitting to kick off the fest with a taping of Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast, an institution, which first featured Aukerman’s musical partner-in-crime Reggie Watts. After some bantering about Watts’s typically eccentric get-up – dude rocked some sick sunglasses – the musician improvised a quick song about getting high. Super high. They say write what you know, I guess?
Following that musical call to action, four members of the cast of Yahoo! web series Burning Love took the stage: Ken Marino, Rob Huebel, Natasha Leggero and Martin Starr. And then the party got mad crashed when Jesse Ventura (played flawlessly by James Adomian) burst from the audience spouting conspiracy theories and nonsense about wrestling. We saw some real talk, y’all – the Body isn’t messing around. Hell, according to Ventura, Austin libertarian fixture and 9/11 truther Alex Jones was waiting in a pedi-cab outside for him. I’m going to wait with bated breath for that collaboration: it might make for the best buddy-cop movie of all time.
The Burning Love crew returned to the stage after the taping for their own feature event: Marino, Huebel, Leggero and Kumail Nanjiani (“a good Italian boy,” according to Marino) performed in a stand-up showcase amid screenings of a few recent episodes from season 2.
And I was pretty thrilled about this show in part because – confession time – I think Ken Marino is simply the tops. Every time I see him, he’s unfailingly enthusiastic about comedy and engaging with audiences and fans, which he once again illustrated tonight when he bounded through the crowd giving high fives and publicly declaring his love for the crowd. Mad props, dude!
The rest of the comics were in similarly good spirits. Among the highlights were Huebel’s fabricated cardboard signs for homeless folks (see above pic) and Nanjiani’s lengthy reading of Yahoo! users’ comments about Burning Love. Apparently a shocking number of people think the show is both real and a horrifying manifestation of the downfall of American culture.
But it wouldn’t be a South by Southwest show without some bizarre turn of events. After a quick preview of Burning Love’s third season – hang on to your hats, folks, Jeff Ross and Rob Delaney will make appearances – the comics returned to the stage for a brief Q&A session. And they discovered a man in the audience had passed out, slumped over in his chair. This, of course, gave the cast members license to spring into the audience and, well, thrust their pelvises at him as audience members snapped photos.
To passed-out-guy: try to pace yourself. It’s only Saturday. We have a lot of debauchery to get through before taking a public nap before 9:30pm becomes okay.