A Comedy Lollapalooza?

What happens when you inject some rock 'n' roll into stand-up comedy? Read on.

Hours – and I do mean many, many hours – before the doors opened Saturday, August 26 at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ thousands of people descended on the several sections of parking housed around the perimeter of the Garden State’s most popular amphitheater. Surely this would make sense for the PNC's many metal and rock shows. That is, the amount and quality of tailgating I found there is something that’s usually reserved for this venue’s more typical fare— Ozzfest, old 80s hair metal bands and the like.

There was lots of music blaring, throngs of people surrounding their cars, drinking from coolers, grilling, some enthusiasts building canopied sun shelters – or in this case, pissing rain shelters – and yes, I spotted a jovial group of people with an impressive beer pong table parked perfectly into one parking space.

And then there was the golf carts— or, one golf cart in particular. The one with stand-up comedian Jim Norton hanging is bare ass off the side, greeting every last fan as it sped through the lots. It was official: the Opie & Anthony circus had arrived. They've recently injected radio with a much needed dose of excitement, dominating both sattelite (XM) and terrestial radio (Free FM). So it's no surprise they made this, their Traveling Virus tour a total rock ‘n’ roll event.

To see more than 10 thousand people gather for one night of stand-up is something of a rarity. It’s par, pretty standard for music events, like the John Mayer and Sheryl Crow show scheduled for the next night. But for comedy? This was something special.

Before the show but after the tailgating, most people took a stroll through the sideshow area – dubbed “the village” – outside the theater. Opie & Anthony show regulars antagonized each other in a human petting zoo; fans took their chances at the “drown the clown” booth (was that Robert Kelly in there?); t-shirts were given away for those willing to kick stuffed dogs or drown baby dolls; and, the Wahoo Skiffle Crazies, the self proclaimed premier jug band of Staten Island performed for confused yet entertained onlookers.

It all combined to create a festive appetizer to a night of stellar comedy. Once in the theater area, the crowd was treated to a pair of rotating strippers from Manhattan’s club HeadQuarters. When it was time, Rich Vos did a more than competent job hosting the first half of the show, even managing to do some crowd work at one point, making out with new wife, comic Bonnie McFarlane in front of the audience. Before the intermission, the crowd was treated to X-rated ventriloquist act Otto and George and Tourgasm standout Robert Kelly, who killed the crowd with his ever self effacing humor about getting fat, the struggles of pissing while you’re erect and the fact that his fiancé “cleans me with a cloth like a wounded elephant” after having sex.

Tracy Morgan, who I spotted backstage working out some material about Michael Jackson’s kid, Blanket, whom he predicts will join gangs as a young adult due to his unfortunate name, managed to weave the bit into his set; the crowd ate it up. Modern day TV legend Bob Saget closed the first half of the show, jibing himself and his eight-year run as Danny Tanner in Full House and his subsequent appearances in Dirty Work and America’s Funniest Home Videos. He was also sure to give props to New Jersey: “Some people think that Jersey is the taint between Philly and New York City,” he said. “It’s not. It’s the hole. And I want to fuck this hole.”

The second half of the show saw Opie & Anthony regulars Patrice O’Neal, Bill Burr and, of course, Norton take to the stage. Most notably, Norton told a story about how two years ago in Las Vegas, he had a three-way romp with porn legend Ron Jeremy and a woman who remained nameless. Norton also told us that he (Norton, not Jeremy) enjoys getting his ass licked— brutal honesty or just plain disgusting for a cheap laugh? Either way, that’s why we love him.

With an incredibly strong set, Carlos Mencia closed out the show. Sure, Comedy Central’s Mind of Mencia is wildly popular. But I think it sometimes forces us to forget the breadth of his material. Yeah, his race material is funny but this set made me remember how much I like his bits about how American parents coddle their kids into being a bunch of pussies. In an unrelated bit, near the end of his time, when he seductively spit on the long black phallus of his microphone, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cringe. I think I did a bit both. But what would Jesus do?

— Dylan P. Gadino


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