By Jordy Altman
Backstage at Kevin & Bean’s April Foolishness, I’m flanked by celebrities, walkie talkies, and pretzel cheese. “Parallel Universe” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers blasts from the line array while I fill my red cup with another beer in the Green Room. I’ve been invited back to recap KROQ’s hilarious annual charity event. Behind me, comedy fans fill the Shrine Auditorium for an event that raises a good chunk of money to support local causes.
In a quick moment, I stop and observe the dozens of black KROQ shirts working together to support one of the funniest nights in LA. KROQ again has partnered with today’s hottest stand-up comedians, raising money for Fisher House – which houses veteran families – and Cedars-Sinai NICU, which is raising money to fund research for terminally ill children. I attempt toast the KROQ crew, congratulating them on making a difference.
Instead a random guy asks me if I want to go downstairs and get high before the show. Such is KROQ.
After a quick reasoning session, we disperse and I take my seat in the upstairs mezzanine. No one is sitting around me, so I stretch out for a bit while the cartoon cutouts of Kevin & Bean fly-by. I’m want to ask the Usher why Kevin & Bean are dressed up as the Ambiguously Gay Duo, but the lights dim and the show begins.
To kickstart the evening, the large video screens flanking the Shrine stage play a 10-minute supercut of Internet Fails so funny, it gave Daniel Tosh a boner.
Once the video ends, Kevin & Bean take the stage to thunderous applause. A man in the front row sloppily stands up and tries to join in the applause, but he’s not coordinated enough to clap. The duo immediately begins to verbally assault Beer Mug before thanking the audience for supporting their local charities. It’s obvious the event means a great deal to Kevin and Bean, but they undercut their sincerity by attacking Beer Mug some more. Man, he sucks. They introduce the first act of the night: their “opening act” contest winner Grant Cotter.
Cotter watched last year’s show from cheap seats, but it’s clear he deserves to be on stage telling jokes. He’s the Cool Bro of comedy, casually mentioning he slept with his teacher but still finished the class with a “C.” A well-crafted set full of 90s references and Twitter blasts, Grant ended his set with a thought-provoking question – “Is this what it feels like to be a Trump rally?” Everybody loses their minds. I look down and notice the man in the front row has finally sat down. How many beers has he had?
Ralph Garman introduces the next act: Gabriel Iglesias. He tells us he’s going to celebrate the anniversary of his own celebrity death hoax by visiting the taco truck outside. He teaches us the difference between male-run and female-run taco trucks, warning the audience that you can never buy enough tacos to make a Mexican man happy.
He ends his set with an uplifting mantra: “Make ‘em smile, make ‘em laugh, make ‘em feel better.” The man in the front row doesn’t get it. Meanwhile, my red cup is nearing empty.
Somebody has joined me in my private mezzanine. I know this because of the loud “WOOOOOOO” in my ear as Jay Mohr walks on stage. If you watch Mohr’s entrance on Periscope, I’m sure you’ll hear the man behind me.
Jay Mohr might be the best comedy story teller alive today. I say this because I didn’t take a lot of notes during his set. He leaves everyone in stitches, remembering the time he helped Tracy Jordan fight a gaggle of white men, or the time he and Norm McDonald dared Chris Farley to poop out of a 17th story window. Does this guy have the best entourage in Hollywood or what?
As he wraps up his set, I slug the rest of my beer. I travel downstairs to empty what’s full and fill what’s empty. While making my way back, I pause in the hallway to witness Gabriel Iglesias taking a selfie with Bob Saget. It’s a beautiful moment that is interrupted by Dave the King of Mexico starting Bob’s introduction. We all rush in different directions: me to my seat, Bob to center stage, and Fluffy to the taco truck.
“Who’s Bill Cosby’s favorite Disney Princess? Sleeping Beauty.” With the Tanner Family back on Netflix, Bob Saget’s dirty dad act is better than ever. He picks up where he left on, making fun of his pretty boy co-stars while fantasizing about his unchaste daughters.
Drunk Guy in the front row won’t stop yelling Bob’s name, so Bob invites him onstage and offers him a seat. Drunk Guy can’t believe it, and after it takes a few extra stage hands to help him onstage we can’t believe it either. Of course it turns out to be a great idea as Bob roasts him in front of the crowd for his pubic drunkenness. Drunk Guy sways with every insult, his shark eyes staring past Saget until he’s finally excused for the grand finale – Saget with his guitar leading the crowd in a singalong of “Danny Tanner is Not Gay.”
Beer Mug comes out to introduce Eddie Ifft, but I’m busy watching the pack of cougars that have just have taken the seats next to me. Their chunky jewelry rattles against their vodka sodas. “I don’t like the sound up here,” one of them complains before collapsing into her seat.
Eddie Ifft begins his set by pondering aloud if his Jewish agent could book him a performance for ISIS. Ifft is a great comedian with a set consisting of comedy staples like marriage, babies, and helicopter BJs. I’m not sure how he does it, but he masterfully weaves together a narration that connects Four Floors of Whores to preventing Mass Shootings. This guy.
Psycho Mike introduces a little night music and Wheeler Walker Jr. takes the stage. He’s the beer-soaked, unlucky love-child of ZZ Top and Andy Kaufman. Nobody’s quite sure how seriously we’re supposed to take this twangy musician in sunglasses and a cowboy hat, but as he begins to sing about “eatin’ p***y and kickin’ ass” it’s clear he knows what he’s all about.
The crowd gets into it, clapping along and whooping to his single “F**k You B***h.” A beer is thrown on stage – Walker catches it and chugs it in mid-air before disappearing in a cloud of dirt. I notice the stage hands resetting the mic are also removing a rattlesnake in a pint glass. Magic.
Greg Fitzsimmons picks up the show and immediately unloads on Hillary Clinton. “Hillary Clinton’s p***y is so dry (how dry is it?!) she doesn’t have any more pubes, just a tumbleweed. She looks like a linebacker for TJ Maxx. I’m counting down the minutes until Trump calls her a c**t.” He’s relentless, until he finally changes gears and asks the women in the audience to cheer if they’ve had an abortion. The woman to my right goes wild, throwing her hands up in the air while spilling vodka on my leg. I’m uncomfortable. She makes seductive eyes at me. Greg Fitzsimmons, that sonofabitch, laughs to himself.
The night winds down as Kevin, Bean, and Dr. Drew take the stage to introduce the night’s final act: Iliza Shlesinger. The party goblin herself crawls onto the stage, hungover and flipping off everyone in the front row. Iliza is a staple of KROQ’s show and her deep catalogue of flawed, foolish characters gets the crowd rolling in an instant. Her stories revolve around her drunken shenanigans, but she prefaces her behavior by asking the audience “If you’re not trashy, why do you feel like you can pull off something trashy like body glitter?”
She scolds the delusional women in the audience, telling half of them to give up on their dreams of becoming mermaids while encouraging the other half to pitch their horrible popcorn ideas on a live episode of Shark Tank.
I travel downstairs after the show to congratulate the KROQ crew on another job well done, but all of the KROQ hoodies are mingling with the talent. Luckily, I run into the amazing, hip Bennie Arthur who is drinking a beer with Wheeler Walker Jr. They cheer me once they find out I’m writing the recap, and start to kiss my ass until I mention most of it has already been written. Suddenly they’re not interested anymore, only Eddie Ifft is.