Oddball Comedy Fest at Austin 360 Amphitheater: Recap & Photo Gallery

Oddball_Comedy_Fest_by_Bryan_Parker-18This Sunday marked the final show of the Oddball Comedy Festival. After twenty shows in sixteen different states with guest comedians including Demetri Martin, Kristen Schaal, Flight of the Concords, Dave Chappelle, and many others, Oddball completed its tour with a sold out crowd at the Austin360 Amphitheater. Beginning on a smaller stage a little after 5 PM, a group of local comedians warmed up early arrivers. Local favorites Maggie Maye, Cody Hustak, Ashley Barnhill, and Mac Blake performed for an hour and half collectively with host Brody Stevens. After watching the side stage, navigating the sea of vendors, and a complicated lawn seating arrangement, I joined the rest of the audience in the 14,000-seat theater in anticipation for the star-studded line up on the main stage.

Oddball_Comedy_Fest_by_Bryan_Parker-26Brody Stevens, professional audience warm-up for shows like Chelsea Lately and @Midnight, kicks off the show by frantically firing up the crowd, repeatedly reminding us to enjoy the last night of the Oddball tour. Doug Benson, perhaps most notable these days for his podcast Doug Loves Movies, navigated through his short fifteen minute set in his usual fashion, commenting on the quality of weed in Austin, feigning surprise at the giant screens behind him projecting his own image, and overall maintaining his easy-going demeanor.

Oddball_Comedy_Fest_by_Bryan_Parker-20In his signature suspenders and enormous afro, Reggie Watts strode onstage next. Watts can be seen anywhere from entertaining as a one-man band on the IFC show Comedy Bang Bang to giving a TED Talk on beats to recording his own Tiny Desk Concert at NPR. He did not disappoint and delivered, far and away, the most physical and most musical set of the night. After giving a small speech on how different SXSW has become since he started going in 1992, Watts delivered three beautifully improvised songs to the audience looping his own voice to create a hit he called “Talking ‘Bout Jesus” followed by a song in which Watts sang silently under the guise of his equipment cutting out. Being able to draw so much laughter simply based on the use of silence serves as a testament to his talent, and watching Watts’s afro bounce across the stage acted as a welcomed energizer for the crowd.

Oddball_Comedy_Fest_by_Bryan_Parker-24A personal favorite of mine, Hannibal Buress, took the stage next for a twenty-five minute set. Buress, like Benson and Watts, is no stranger to Austin. I first saw Buress a couple of years ago at the Parish during Moontower Comedy Festival; back then I was impressed by his ability to improvise jokes based on his surroundings and he continued to impress on Sunday as he rapidly fired off ad lib jokes about stores filled with nothing on South Congress and repeatedly making the sign language interpreter sign, “I’m jacking off…” He ended the first half of the show before intermission with his gibberish rap, and the freak show of the Oddball tour joined him on staged while he rapped through a highly auto tuned, mumbled song.

Oddball_Comedy_Fest_by_Bryan_Parker-28After a bizarre, thirty-minute intermission featuring DJ Trauma playing the hits for all his “80’s babies,” the show began its second half with Whitney Cummings. Cummings created and starred in her own short-lived sitcom, Whitney, before creating her more successful sitcom 2 Broke Girls, and most recently performed her second hour-long special, I Love You, on Comedy Central. Cummings primarily stuck to her material from her hour long special, diverting from it only to alert the audience’s attention to the interpreter signing “squirting” and to remind a heckler during a bit about not using condoms to, “please use condoms, I don’t want you to have children.”

Oddball_Comedy_Fest_by_Bryan_Parker-30Marc Maron, creator of the WTF with Marc Maron podcast and his own IFC show Maron, comfortably delivered his neurotic stream-of-consciousness set with ease to the 14,000 audience members. Tackling a variety of subjects from his own anger issues to uncomfortably performing in Raleigh, North Carolina on Easter weekend as a man of the Jewish faith. My favorite part of his set came when he began to review his own show as the “inner blogger in my head” pinpointing the exact neurotic, self-deprecating quality that denotes all things Maron.

Oddball_Comedy_Fest_by_Bryan_Parker-35After Maron, Sarah Silverman performed a twenty-five minute set littered with crowd work and controversial jokes about abortion and religion. I easily enjoyed Silverman’s set the most over the course of the evening because it seemed the most malleable to the crowd. She interviewed a couple (and according to Silverman the only black man in the crowd) about their relationship, she made up a song for a drunk girl in the front row who would not stop yelling during her set, and she questioned a straight, Christian male’s reluctance to let God ejaculate in his mouth. This on top of discussing a woman’s right to choose, abortion, and taking more than a few digs at Governor Rick Perry. Silverman may be too liberal for some, but you cannot deny her stage presence and delivery. Her newest comedy album We Are Miracles, put out by Sub Pop Records, comes out Tuesday, September 23rd.

Oddball_Comedy_Fest_by_Bryan_Parker-38Finally, after all of Steve Brody and DJ Trauma’s hype, Louis C.K. began his fifty minute set, a set almost twice as long as any other comedian. Louis C.K. opened his act with a tale from the tour of Hannibal Burress blowing him in his hotel room, prompting Burress to emerge to wild applause and yell, “You said it was gonna be a secret!” before dropping the microphone with a deafening thud. Louis breezed through his set scolding the audience for cheering when he said Austin, a town “that’s forty minutes away from here.” He touched on classic Louis C.K. subjects: masturbating, his kids lying, typical white girls, being from New York City versus living in the country, as his set unfolded easily and comfortably.

Oddball_Comedy_Fest_by_Bryan_Parker-22Being able to see each and every one of those comedians at the same time was a dream come true, but the price of the entertainment came at the cost of trekking out to the Circuit of the Americas. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening of entertainment, but not the hassle of a series of lines to get into the venue and commercialism surrounding the show. The venue arbitrarily forbid the use of blankets in order to pack more people into the lawn and the intermission after a mere hour of comedy seemed like unnecessary acts to squeeze every bit of profit out of the show as possible. By affording the opportunity to see so many outstanding comics at once, Oddball Comedy Festival at the Austin360 Ampitheater succeeds. For a more intimate show, I enjoy experiencing comedy at FunFunFunFest, Moontower Comedy Festival, SXSW, or local comedy venues even if it means sacrificing the quantity of performers.

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