CHICAGO — In the absence of a high profile hockey game and a bombastically hyped thunderstorm, day four of Just For Laughs Chicago was a heavily attended night of wildly different styles of comedy. After seeing Seth Meyers, Hannibal Buress and Al Madrigal deliver some palatable stand-up to the nearly sold out Chicago Theatre, I headed down to Stage 773 for Bryan Cook’s Erotic Fan Fiction, where Kyle Kinane, Ben Roy and others entertained a decidedly more debased audience with fictional tales of pop carnality within the worlds of The Walking Dead, Muppet Babies and Guy Fieri.
In the same week that John Oliver was sworn in as temporary host of The Daily Show, one of the show’s correspondent’s Madrigal played wing-man for another late-night hopeful in his warm-up role for Meyers. Madrigal, who released his first hour comedy special earlier this year on Comedy Central, held his own on the JFL stage, relating tales of Golden Corral’s subtle racism, using your children as social leverage, and the coded language of Thai massage parlors.
“So she gives me the $40 massage, and now it’s time to ask me if I want the extra part,” he begins, “But she can’t say what she wants to say, she’s gotta be cryptic about it, so she says these words: ‘You want me make banana cry?’ ‘Uh, no, I don’t want you to make banana cry. But can you ask me again? Because that’s fucking hilarious.’”
Buress commanded the 3,600-seat audience with his sordid tales of renting a parade in New Orleans, and why it’s easier to fly with cocaine than bottled water. Relating an anecdote of his early stand-up career opening for Tracy Morgan, Buress touched on a relevant note for me. Having interviewed Morgan a week earlier, I could also attest that the SNL comic is lovably insane.
“So before the show started I went to his dressing room and said, ‘Hey man, how much time do you want me to do before you go on?’” Buress explained. “That’s a simple question for the opener to ask the headliner. But he says [with a pitch perfect Morgan impersonation] ‘HEY JUST DO YOUR TIME, OPEN LIKE A DATE RAPE DRUG, AND IT’LL ALL BE THE BIG BLACK DICK!’”
Outside of hosting the White House Press Correspondence Dinner in 2011, I can’t think of a time I’d seen Meyers perform anything close to stand-up. But the soon-to-be Late Night star delivered a strong set Friday night, popping off topical jokes on sports, pedophiles, domestic troubles, the NSA, global warming and why Biden will probably be shot by the Secret Service.
“You can tell that Obama is just not going to get much done in his second term,” Meyers said, pacing the stage in a finely tailored suit, undoubtedly the most formally dressed comedian of the festival. “Because there are certain people who are just never going to change their minds. If you’re someone that just doesn’t believe in climate change or gun control, you’re never going to believe in climate change or gun control. There could be a hurricane whipping across the entire country, going back and forth and it’s gust of winds just lifts up all of our guns. And the guns start firing and killing hundreds of thousands of people. And in the face of this giant gun-hurricane you can ask ‘will you now accept that we’re experiencing climate change and have too many guns?’ Certain people will say ‘that all happened because gays got married.’”
Previous night’s at JFL Chicago’s Stage 773 had been hit or miss on attendance, but once Friday rolled around it was a packed house for each event. While I had missed the Doug Loves Movies podcast when I was across town, I did make it in time for Bryan Cook’s Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction. The newly minted podcast on The Nerdist network was a strong contrast against the relatively tame material I’d seen earlier that night, particularly when Cook opened with a carnally gut-wrenching take on The Walking Dead.
“Michonne had figured out long ago that if she sliced off the jaws and arms of a pair of walkers and lead them around on chains, they would not only cloak her scent to the other undead, but she could use them as pack mules. The fact that they were African-Americans made a lot of white viewers uncomfortable, because they totally seemed like slaves.”
Continuing to remove the legs of the zombies, Michonne observed to Andrea that the undead still had tongues. “Without hesitation she proceeded to straddle the face of one walker, lining its hissing maw with her Nubian vagina. Andrea immediately followed suit because there’s no way it was the first time she’d thought about fucking one of these things. . . . Michonne got carried away in the midst of one particularly strong orgasm and literally crushed her partners fragile skull, with a powerful thrust it burst like a moldy cantaloupe full of month-old borscht.”