AUSTIN — Yesterday was the eighth and final day of SXSW’s comedy shows, and I can’t think of a better way to close this year’s proceedings than with a fabulous slew of performances on Doug Benson’s The Benson Interruption podcast.
Sitting alongside Benson onstage was a surprise guest, and one of my favorites: Eugene Mirman. The duo co-interrupted stand-up sets during the first half of the show from a fairly gaudy pair of green and orange plastic chairs. Mirman’s offhand observation about the crowd’s energy was particularly apt in describing the rest of the performance: “This audience is so positive and so high.” Double true, my friend! Folks were in very, very good spirits for each of the seven comedians who took the stage to talk about their experiences at SXSW and, of course, to engage in brief tweet-offs.
One high point (I can’t resist a good pun, so apologies in advance for my mad wordplay) came from Geoff Tate’s solid set. After describing SXSW’s dark side – the fest combines “all the worst parts of Bonnaroo and traffic.” – Tate nailed Mirman for sitting on “a throne made of cake frosting.” You know, it was meant to be a burn, but if I were dying, I might request a frosting chair from the Make A Wish Foundation. If I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go on my own terms.
After Tate’s set, the vibe seemed to shift from lively to raucous, thanks in part to audience members’ trips to the venue’s bar, but also thanks in part to Eric Krug (pictured above), who kicked off his set with an in-depth, disturbing description of the mechanics of the “salt abortion.” Now, I’m not going to re-Google that to explain it to you, but suffice it to say that Benson dropped his mic upon Krug’s explanation amid horrified (probably?) laughter from the audience. And, as if the set couldn’t get any more unhinged, apparently a large rat ran across the rafters behind the comedians, prompting a brief shouting match between the performers and the crowd about where the rodent had traveled to. We still don’t know. We’ll never know.
At this point Mirman was replaced by Austin comedian Chris Cubas, with whom Benson created a new conceit for a SXSW show: instead of offering loud music like every other venue, the two would just sit onstage snoring quietly. Again, I know it was a joke, but that legitimately sounds fantastic. Comedy programmers: SXSW 2014, “Naptime with Chris and Doug.” Let’s book that one fast.
But sleepiness aside, the show closed with a bang: the final guest of the evening was none other than Hannibal Buress, who delivered a hell of a performance after going rogue and declaring that he would NOT be interrupted. Buress riffed on having a ticket to a Prince concert that played later that evening, yielded from his connections to Samsung – the rest of us peasants weren’t so lucky, naturally. And, in typical SXSW form, we caught a dose of product placement about the new Samsung Galaxy phone from Buress. And it looks like a pretty boss phone, so Hannibal, I’d say you earned your ticket. Nice work.
And that was that. Eight days of comedy, corporate sponsorship, and bacchanalia on Sixth Street. Thanks to all of you dear readers for turning in, and I’ll see you next time after hibernating for a year.