Concert Knowledge: 6 things I learned at the Oddball Comedy Tour

The Funny or Die Presents Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Tour (official name) hit Mansfield on Sunday. If you’ve never been to Mansfield, it’s a nowhereseville located somewhere between Providence and Boston that happens to be home to the Comcast Center. Over the course of the night, it was referred to by comedians as “sort-of Boston,” “almost Boston,” “kind-of Boston,” and “greater Boston area.” (Boston jokes, in light of recent events, were off-limits to all except emcee/Roast legend Jeff Ross and headliner Dave Chapelle.) So, how was the show? Fucking epic. Here, in list form, is what I learned at the festival.

1. Dave Chappelle’s still got it. I’ve never been the biggest Chappelle fan, so considering the now-notorious Hartford incident only a few stops earlier in the tour, I expected very little. But from his grandiose entry (silhouetted behind a white sheet, backed by a pump-up rap song) to his wide-ranging material, Chappelle hit often and missed hardly ever. He addressed the elephant in the room early and often, shitting on Hartford like no one has ever shat on Hartford. He ranged from material on his family to the FBI to the weirdness of the city of Boston (something involving a racist homeless guy with a hammer) and drew laughs consistently on every subject. The drunk Boston bros in front of me especially loved it, which brings me to…

2. Boston bros suck. My friend and I got stuck sitting behind four bearded, backwards-Patriots-cap-wearing dudes who seemed to derive a majority of their satisfaction in life from being big enough for no one to really fuck with them. They were rocking some Duck Dynasty lite version beards, too, just to add to the douche factor. The bros would not shut up during Flight of the Conchords, Chappelle’s co-headliner. The bros said to each other roughly fifty times each, “They might be funny if I could understand what the fuck they were saying,” and responded to every Conchords line with “No more,” or “We want Chappelle!” They were awful, but…

3. Flight of the Conchords are worth seeing live, even if you know all their songs already. Sure, they have a few new, post-HBO sitcom songs, but those aren’t the highlight of the set. The band members’ improvised banter (along with some probably planned banter) makes them a guaranteed live hit for every performance. They joke about their “five groupies,” but they seem like a band that’d be legitimately worth following around—they give you something new every night. On the other hand, all I can say about their TV co-star is…

4. Kirsten Schaal—and Al Madrigal—is solid. Schaal, perhaps best known as Conchords superfan Mel in the semi-hit TV show Flight of the Conchords, is a decent stand-up. The token comedienne in an otherwise uniformly male lineup, she did her longest bit at the end of her set. It was a take-off on The Vagina Monologues titled The Taint Monologues, and it wasn’t great. Luckily for Schaal, Al Madrigal, an LA-based, equally likable comedian, matched her mediocrity later on. Like the way Schaal drove her humor with her womanhood, Madrigal used his Latino heritage as the subject of many of his chuckle-worthy jokes. They were both fine, but they were well overshadowed by…

5. John Mulaney. Fuck yes. Mulaney is an up-and-coming comedian who nearly took off when his sitcom pilot was considered, then rejected, by NBC. The most memorable bit of Mulaney’s set likened marriage to buying a cow for about five minutes. It was funny. Just trust me. (No video is available from the tour yet, sadly.)

6. Hannibal Burress. Also yes. Hannibal Burress, who appeared at Brown only months ago, also killed, ending his routine with his “number one hit in Norway, ‘Gibberish Rap.'” Burress, with his lights- and DJ-heavy routine, calls to mind Aziz Ansari, which is certainly not a bad thing considering Burress is able to make the schtick his own. For more Burress, watch this interesting video in which he discusses how he comes up with his jokes.

That’s about all I got. All I can add is that Mulaney, Burress, Conchords, and Chappelle are each worth the price of admission alone, and you should take any chance you get to see any of them. Or fly to the west coast and see the whole thing next week. Your call.

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