Here is Dale Roe’s review of Sarah’s 11/8/13 standup set at the Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin. (She’ll next be appearing there 11/10 on the “yellow stage.”)
Sarah Silverman is a big name in comedy with a deceptively dainty appearance.
Still, it’s a good bet that she could fill up the Paramount Theatre, right next door to the State Theatre where her Friday Fun Fun Fun Fest set was staged (the Paramount hosted the Daily Show standups Friday, though they were not part of the Fest).
But I’m glad Silverman and her openers — Kyle Dunnigan and Doug Benson, played the smaller room. The State is a great place to see live comedy. It’s big enough to hold what — 300 people? But it’s small enough to seem intimate. Crowd work is dicey in a large auditorium but each of Friday’s FFF comics were able to use it to their advantage Friday.
Dunnigan started it off, bantering with a woman who started shouting comments as soon as he hit the stage. For the first few, bizarre moments of his set it seemed as if the show was going off the rails. “What should we do?” Dunnigan asked the crowd. “Should the rest of us all leave?” He reigned her in and got the crowd — many of whom I heard mention in line that after a day of live music they were ready to laugh — warmed up nicely. Best bits included a hunk about the first guy to get LASIK surgery. “It’s a laser beam that goes into your eye,” Dunnigan cracked. “What’s the one thing we’ve always heard about lasers? Don’t look at them!”
Doug Benson hit the stage announcing that he was high. How high? “I’m about a 7.4 on a scale of zero to 7.4,” he said.
If it was shtick, Benson is one of the best actors I’ve ever seen. He tripped over a lot of words, stopping to laugh at his predicament, but somehow worked it to his advantage, hitting all of his punchlines (many seemed spontaneous) and really getting the crowd on his side. That came in especially handy when he began verbally sparring with the woman Dunnigan had shut down earlier. He wrung laughs out of the fact that he had spilled barbecue from downtown eatery Frank on his right pant leg. That’s some skill right there. He joked about how polite the Austin crowd was — welcome praise for the city that shut down Dave Chappelle.
Silverman then took the stage to loud cheers. She dealt with and dismissed the female heckler in short order, then moved onto another young man in the crowd, bringing him up onto the edge of the stage, where she sat with her arm around him. She asked him his name, age, what he was studying in school and what he wants to be “when you grow up more.”
“I’m studying journalism,” the guy replied.
“Okay. What do you really want to be?” Silverman joked.
She then told the young man he looked like he could use some love. She showered him with positivity, telling him that he seemed smart, was good looking, that he was loved and that he could be anything he wanted to be. Then she handed the microphone to him.
“Okay, your turn,” she said.
After returning the man to his seat, Silverman wasted no time moving into signature inappropriate bits, including the search words she uses to find pornography online (the two I can mention here are “audition” and “hi-fives”). She then turned to her list of new material — with different gynecological content from the same routine she used in her SXSW appearances earlier this year — and closed with a song.
Turns out Silverman’s got a great singing voice, but that was just icing. Every word from her mouth was music to her appreciative fans’ ears.