By Ramon Gonzales
The scene out in front of the Shrine Auditorium Saturday night was quite a spectacle. Throngs of eager ticketholders filed into long lines without objection and were already chuckling before reaching the metal detectors. The 9th installment of Kevin and Bean’s April Foolishness touted an impressive line up comedians that gave fans plenty of reason to be excited.
Ranging from emerging stars to stage-seasoned veterans, the roster of talent for the evening wasted little time in getting to work, as laughs filled the floor and mezzanine at a consistent pace for all three hours of the show.
It should be noted that the superbly talented field of comedians also proved to be good humans. Donating their time and talents, every comic delivered their choice material for free. Ticketholders not only scored seats to one hell of a comedic showcase, they also helped raise funds for worthy causes. Fisher House works to provide housing for families that are supporting injured veterans during their treatment. Cedars Sinai NICU continues treatment and research for critically ill children. Considering the charity component, these guys could’ve phoned in their set and there wouldn’t have been much of a fuss. Nursing a sore stomach the morning after this particular comedy show, suggests that was not the case.
Working comedian and impressionist Julian Fernandez corralled the fan vote to secure his spot as the opening act and did not disappoint. Tackling the tough task of impressions means the comedian has to be both funny and precise. Fernandez balanced both and managed to warm up an entire auditorium.
Jimmy Pardo was on deck and seemed very adamant about discussing his recent purchase of a new belt. Before he got to that however, Pardo managed to work in an Iron Maiden, Wham!, KISS, and Jim Croce reference in just one 20 minute set. Pardo then became distracted by William and Susan. This unfortunate couple couldn’t seem to find their seats fast enough and became choice pickings for Pardo. The bit of good-natured ribbing culminated with the audience finally seeing Pardo’s new belt. It was purple. He didn’t realize that until right before he walked out onstage.
As the new host of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Jonah Ray is riding some serious momentum. Introduced by Ralph Garman, Ray had the most unique set of the evening and would actually bring Garman back out to help him execute it properly. Ray pulled out a printed fan email and utilized Garman’s voiceover skill to help properly paint a picture.
What started out as a complimentary fan message that originated with the fan sympathizing with Ray and their mutual lack of sexual activity turned into a weird alpha male diatribe. The fan would call Ray a hipster and a ‘foot long schlong’ of comedy in the same sentence. In a strange stream of consciousness the fan would continue to detail his ongoing affair with a 22-year old and would wrap it all up with confiding in Ray that he saw a lot of himself in the comedian. As both Ray and Garman laughed their way through the letter, the audience was in hysterics as this “fan” gave everyone a target to laugh at and probably not with.
It wouldn’t be a Kevin and Bean show without some kind of surprise. Leave it to Steve-O to come with a bit of theatrics to ratchet things up for the evening. Introducing Taylor Williamson as only he could, Steve-O gave the audience an eyeful for a stunt that borrowed a bit of inspiration from Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. The moment proved to be one that will in perpetuity thanks to social media.
Thanking Steve-O and his member for the proper introduction, Williamson’s brand of self-deprecating humor worked well in maintaining the momentum of the show. Lines like, “I’ve made more money this year doing comedy than Bill Cosby,” I’m not gay, sorry ladies,” and “I’m not successful enough yet to share how I really feel about anything onstage,” accented Taylor’s awkwardness in a way that made him endearing. Williamson even managed to work the Latino contingent in the room in confiding his fascination with Mexican parents and the use of the chancla (flip-flop) and a tool of discipline.
Adding some star power to the line up, veteran comedian and actor David Koechner took to the stage next. He proceeded to give the audience a glimpse of what it is like to have a drinking buddy for a wife and five children. Adding that he hadn’t slept past 7:30 am in over 18 years, Koechner detailed what a typical morning is like in his house. With one daughter repeatedly announcing she’s tired at 7am, another showcasing her new found love of the recorder, another that habitually crawls into his bed at 3am, another that is 6’4 and growing and another that is obsessed with Starbucks, Koechner had aisles of the Shrine in stitches with just how vivid his stories translated. David would bookend his set by leading the auditorium in an enthusiastic sing-a-long of Starland Vocal Band ‘s “Afternoon Delight.”
Kevin, Bean, and none other than Dr. Drew Pinsky helped welcome Anjelah Johnson to the Foolishness stage. Johnson’s graceful stage time included highlights like a narcoleptic massage therapist (true story) and her irrational fear of home invaders covered in spiders. A new resident to Hollywood, Johnson detailed the difficulty in navigating the rumors and gossip of Tinsel Town and explained that the best approach is a proactive one. “There was a rumor that I was dating Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson,” Anjelah claimed. “I actually made that rumor up.”
As one half of the About Last Night podcast with Brad Williams, Adam Ray garnered some of the biggest laughs of the night. Ray would assert some interesting talking points. He explained that dealing with turbulence on a flight is much easier than dealing with a case of the munchies on a flight. Ray hilariously documented the strange drinking behavior of women and how different liquor produces different results. Ray would also divulge that at 9 years old, his mom hit him with a “power slam of truth” when she crushed his boyhood dream of playing professional basketball by pointing out to him that there were no Jews in the NBA.
For brief moment, Ray started to dig into the current political climate. His concern was that the constant Trump coverage was a bit of smoke and mirrors in distracting the public from serious issues that would likely cause outrage. He proved his point when he reminded the audience that the Verizon “Can You Hear Me Now” guy jumped shipped to Sprint and without anyone batting an eye.
Punctuating the occasion, the show’s headliner, Bill Burr, walked out onstage to a thunderous applause. As a new father, Burr had the fans howling as he discussed how easy pregnancy could be if you are a man. He again hit a homerun when he confided that it took nearly 12 hours after his daughter’s birth to feel an emotional connection to her. Burr described how he was holding his daughter, a Stevie Wonder song was playing, and he THOUGHT, ‘if anyone harms a hair on her head’ but VOICED “I’ll f**king kill you.” Coincidentally the nurse happened to hear the latter. The scenario had the crowd in stitches.
Burr flexed his seniority as a comedian in brilliantly treading on touchy subjects during his set. Among those sensitive topics, Burr asserted that the word “hero” is not to be taken lightly when it comes to Veterans of the Armed Forces. Burr was upset that every sporting event he went to paid tribute to a veteran as a hero. He continued, “That word hero should come with a highlight reel… if you were the guy putting oil in the jeeps buy your own ticket.”
The comedian would then put forth a compelling, albeit hilarious, argument that robots will soon take over. Asserting that as robots are now programmed to reason and even have sex, human interaction will cease and the only people that will survive will be the hipsters, because they love old stuff.
If there was a single line that could best summarize Burr’s set and provide some insight into his brand of humor, it MIGHT be this. “How many Toyota Corollas do you have to see on the road before you realize that most people’s dreams do not come true.”
So funny, it hurts.