Sunday, June 19, 2011

TBS: Very Funny (Just Not On TV)

The TBS Just For Laughs comedy festival sponsored by Twix (clearly the most hilarious of all candy bars) was this past week and I was lucky enough to be a part of the very first event AND the very last event, while seeing my future husband and getting a bunch of free candy in between. Every bit of it was fantastic and way the hell funnier than the TBS prime time line up of shows, most of which can be described in almost any way you want except "very funny". But allow me to start at the beginning.

The festival kicked off in the most awesome way possible: by confusing the shit out of tourists. The MP3 Experiment is a flash mob* created by the group Improv Everywhere in which participants download an MP3 to their iPod (or similar), synchronize their watches with the atomic clock on the website, show up in an appointed place wearing an appointed color shirt and at an appointed time everyone presses "play" and follows the instructions. I'd been to one before about three years ago, and while it was fun, it was cold and raining and not a lot of people showed up. Not so this time. I got on the train to go downtown and immediately noticed a group of about five people in solid colored t-shirts of red, green and yellow attempting to covertly drink a batch of vodka and lemonade from a tube they'd rigged to a container in one guy's backpack who were clearly up to the same antics I was. In fact, about 1,000 other people turned out to be up to the same antics I was. I installed myself near the bean and played a quick game of "Who else do I think is playing?" while I waited for it to be 1:30. At 1:30, chaos organization erupted. Here is a short video of it. A few awesome people with no idea what was going on decided it was best to just go with it, and started following us around doing whatever they saw us doing. The highlight for me was during our attempt to make ourselves into a giant target. While crushed in with all the other people wearing green shirts, I found myself looking at two guys standing near me who were looking right back and grinning. "Dude, you're the girl from the train!" one of them said. "I KNEW it! I knew you were playing!" High fives were exchanged, vodka lemonade was shared, memories were made. It was an amazing day**.

 The following Thursday, I forewent my usual drinking night at Tai's and instead met up with Mr and MrsTrivia, Mr. and Mrs. Paulblo and Mr. and Mrs. Eldest of the Brothers Whose Last Name Rhymes With Schmongola for dinner at Elephant and Castle before making our collective way over to the Chicago Theater to see Demetri Martin and Some of His Friends Who Are Also Comedians. Demetri Martin, by the way, is going to marry me someday when he finally meets me and falls hopelessly in love with me and my hilarious t-shirts. I wore one to the show which I thought he would like, but as I was sitting in the balcony he didn't see it and instead pulled some other guy up on stage to look at his t-shirt (said guy had asked Demetri what was with his very plain shirt because it wasn't funny and Demetri brought him up for a comparison. Guy's t-shirt was a drawing of Jesus shooting Charles Darwin in the head and read "Evolve this". "So my shirt just has a line on it and isn't funny, and your shirt is what's wrong with America," Demetri observed. Point Demetri). The show and everyone on was hilarious (though I think Kristen Schaal was holding back her best stuff for her own show which makes total sense), in particular Hannibal Buress, who we are seeing again in July. I was sitting in a different place from the others who were downstairs and MrTrivia had graciously offered me a ride home, so we had agreed to meet out front at the end of the show. On the way out I received several complimentary Twix bars which amazingly happened to be the exact size of fun:

This is precisely how big fun is.
 Outside , I walked over close to the street and began scanning the crowd for MrTrivia and/or the rest of our party. Seeing none of them, I texted him and said "I'm already outside! What do I win?"

"I am too right in front. Where r u?" he responded.

I looked around for him some more but didn't see him. "Right in the middle near the street" I replied and continued looking. As I did so, I noticed a tallish man standing right in front of me turn around slowly. Upon sighting me he said "Seriously?" We'd been standing right next to each other for five minutes without noticing.

The festival closed last Sunday with a show titled Steve Martin and Martin Short in a Very Stupid Conversation. When I saw that Steve Martin was coming to town I freaked a little. I've been wanting to see him live since I was about 7 years old, right around the first time I saw the King Tut clip from SNL in re-run. A good chunk of my childhood was spent next door with my best friend Mary watching Dirty Rotten Scoundrels nearly every other day (also we were watching a lot of Jean-Claude Van Damme movies for which I have no explanation save that we were very young). Martin Short is no slouch either, and the show opened with various clips of their work, including their appearance together in The Three Amigos, a little Ed Grimly and the absolutely legendary Great Flydini. They then had a piss funny conversation in which they interviewed one another, Short interviewing Steve martin about himself, Martin interviewing Martin Short about what he thought of Steve Martin. Martin Short sang a song, Steve Martin played the banjo (brilliantly - there's a reason the man's won 4 Grammys) and then Short returned to the stage and interviewed Steve Martin again as Jiminy Glick. Meanwhile, I was pissing myself, had tears streaming down my face and laughed so hard and so long my abs still hurt four days later. It was funny on an absolutely insane level that should not be achievable without performance enhancing drugs and well worth the quarter century wait.

Demetri: Call me.

*Note to the City of Chicago, CPD and Chicago area news outlets: the crime spree you've been witnessing this summer involving roving bands of teenagers ganging up on individuals in the downtown area to beat up and rob them which you all have been calling a flash mob? Stop doing that. Try group thugging, gang activity, or some other wording of your choice. That is not what flash mob means.

**It started out that way anyway. In case anyone is wondering what happened to the other two posts I was planning about my trip to England, due to an e-mail (!) I received when I got home from flash mobbing, I just don't feel like writing them anymore. Sorry.

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