My friend Robyn is an amazing photographer and has been a fan of Driven By Boredom since the very beginning. Well, that’s not exactly true, she probably doesn’t give a fuck about my site these days but she was a big fan 10 years ago when we first started corresponding. She was from Canada so the first time I met her was in 2006 or 2007 when she visited NYC for the first time. I drove her to Philly to visit the Mütter Museum and I took her to an underground comedy show because she was a huge stand up fan. Amazingly one of her favorite comics David Cross was the suprise guest and she was really fucking excited. A few short years later Robyn is one of the best photographers I know and she specializes in shooting comedians. She has had posters all over NYC so you have seen her work even if you don’t know it. (She also shot my Twitter avatar.) She even got to shoot David Cross for the Comedy Death Ray 2010 calendar.
That gets us to the point of this damn post. Comedy Death Ray. CDR is a comedy show held every Tuesday at the UCB theater in LA. It features amazing comedians every week and Robyn has taken me to it a few times while I have been in LA and I have always had a blast. So when I got the press release from IFC about Comedy Death Ray doing a special South By Southwest edition at the IFC Crossroads House I knew I had to show up.
The show was held in this tiny studio inside the IFC Crossroads House which was a pretty weird thing. The Crossroads House was a place people could go and get free pretzels and beer all throughout SXSW and they brought in bands and actors and things to do interviews or play music in the studio. They would let a very small group of press and guests into the very small studio but most people had to watch from outside the sound proof room on TV screens or through glass windows. As a member of the press I was let inside the studio and it made for a very surreal experience watching all the people outside looking in like we were in some sort of fish bowl. Every single comedian made a joke about it and they were all very funny.
The line up was pretty stellar. It was hosted by Scott Aukerman who created CDR. He did a bit that wasn’t exactly laugh out loud funny, but was disturbing and sort of amazing. There was a method to his madness but I think the result was better than explaining the whole thing, so all you need to know is that by the end of his bit he had a random audience member shirtless, wearing a wig, with lip gloss all over his face on the floor mooing like a cow. It was pretty nuts.
Thomas Lennon from the State and Reno 911 was up next and did a lot of gay jokes which is justified by bringing up his GLAAD Award for his role as Lt. Jim Dangle on Reno. I think they were more easily justified as just being really fucking funny. (For the record when you do a google search on Thomas Lennon as soon as you get to Thomas Len google prompts you with “Thomas Lennon gay”.) I am a huge fan of Thomas Lennon from the State days, maybe the most underrated TV show ever Viva Variety, and of course Reno 911. I even saw Taxi on a plane because he wrote it although I still don’t have the guts to sit through “The Pacifier”.
Next up was New Yorker and hilarious Russian Eugene Mirman. It was actually Eugene’s show Invite Them Up that I took Robyn too those many years ago. I met Eugene at SXSW in 2005 and kept running into him randomly up until I started attending Invite Them Up every week and my run ins with him became decidedly less random. Eugene is always hilarious and always very, very weird and his CDR SXSW performance was no exception. His best bit involved him showing off actual Facebook ads he placed for things ranging from helping you love eye contact with disabled people to blatant extortion. Good times.
Next up was Dave Foley from the motherfucking Kids In The Hall. Robyn as a Canadian was the biggest Kids In The Hall fan I have ever met and she was also a huge fan of DBB so she once stalked Mark McKinney outside of a show and got him to hold up a fan sign for me. I too being a big KITH fan was fucking psyched. I was also fucking psyched to get to meet Dave Foley which happened not once, but twice at SXSW and on top of that I got to see him do stand up. His stand up was great but there was a short period where it seemed he had lost the croud, but he came back from it with a solid joke and then asked how much time he had left. IFC informed him he had two minutes so he proceeded to just stand on stage silently for two straight minutes. It ended up being possibly the funniest part of his act. Brilliant!
After Dave Foley came Thomas Lennon’s State and Viva Variety co-star Michael Ian Black. “MIB” as the kids call him is most famous for doing fucking Sierra Mist commercials which is probably a travesty since he has been part of a million brilliant things. Equally tragic is his show Stella getting canceled after one season on Comedy Central. MIB also owns the distinction as the first celebrity I ever talked to via social networking as we once exchanged messages on Friendster about how exactly Stella got the dick on the fish. (The answer: a lot of fishing line.) At CDR he did a comedic monologue about sky diving with Thomas Lennon that involved vomit and his wife calling him a pussy. It was lovely.
Finally Aziz Ansari closed the night out doing almost all new material. I used to be decent friends with Aziz but I haven’t seen him since he got super famous and started hosting awards shows, stealing scenes in Judd Apatow films, and starring in maybe the funniest show on TV that’s not about the weather in Philadelphia. I actually met the guy at SXSW years ago and then he started coming out to parties I was shooting. I was pretty active in the comedy scene when I first moved to NYC and Aziz was one of the few comics who actually liked to go to hipster dance parties. He moved to LA but he is back now so hopefully he will be showing up on DBB more often. His set killed it as always but the craziest part of the whole night was when I tried to talk to him after the show. A huge crowd swarmed around him and he took photos with about, and I am not even exaggerating, 50 people. It was nuts, it was like he was a very patient Beatle getting mobbed by awkward indie rock nerds instead of screaming 15 year old girls. I got to talk to him for a few seconds but I let him get the fuck out of there before he had to pose for another 50 photos.
So yeah, there is a crazy long, oddly personal account of the show. You should click here to see all the pictures from the Comedy Death Ray SXSW show at the IFC Crossroads House.