Sunday, October 04, 2009

Nerdy and Manic...

...the perfect way to describe the past few days of my life.

In case you don't know this about me, in addition to being a massive music snob and avid concert goer, I am also a mega comedy nerd. One of the major perks of my job is that it affords me ample time and pretty much forces me to listen to podcasts and music all day long, in order to drown out the sound of the people around me.

I always enjoyed Comedy Central and HBO specials, Conan O'Brien, Last Comic Standing, and Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, and others in the past, but over the last two years, I've had the chance to delve deeper and deeper into the world of "alternative comedy" and I've learned so much about what I find truly funny thanks to a number of amazing comics that happen to be much wittier than I will ever be.

Since moving to Chicago I've also had the opportunity to see quite a few of these comics perform live...sometimes for free! When done right, comedy shows can rival and occasionally even surpass concerts in terms of the joy they bring me. A night of unpredictability and laughter with hundreds of people that have a similar sense of humor...what could be better?

One of the people I've "discovered" through podcasts (and the very special A Special Thing forum) is Chris Hardwick. Of course, I remember Chris as the sarcastic co-host of Jenny McCarthy and Carmen Electra on Singled Out, and I also remember him as the equally snarky host of Shipmates, an atrocious dating show that I used to watch at an ungodly hour of the night in my waitressing years (when I couldn't sleep). I think I always liked him because he seemed to grasp how silly reality TV, dating, and people in general, were. Then he sort of disappeared...until he started popping up on seemingly EVERY podcast I listen to: Never Not Funny, Guys With Feelings, Comedy Death Ray, Adam Carolla, I Love Movies, Comedy & Everything Else and many more.

So finally, after all of the listening to him in my earbuds, watching him on TV and following him on Twitter, I got to see him perform yesterday at the Lakeshore Theater, where he showed up with his fellow joke-telling, music-making partner in crime, Mike Phirman. By the time they left the stage, the performance had already safely made its way into my top two comedy shows. Yep, right up there with Paul F. Tompkins...and that's not an easy place to get to. I can't really describe the show without repeating my favorite jokes, but I can say that they are brilliant stand-up comedians, surprisingly fantastic live singers, highly entertaining performers and overall smart, hilarious, sweet, lovely guys. And look - I got hugs and autographs! It was a dream come true.

(A few other pictures HERE, including the best autograph ever...they still make me smile!)

If you don't have the chance to see them perform, you can always just do as I do and check out Chris and Mike on Twitter every day, listen for them on any of the podcasts I mentioned above, or take a look at for a little bit of all things geek.

Moving right along, not only did I have one of the funniest nights of my life this week, but also one of the downright rockingest. Jon and I saw the Manic Street Preachers on Thursday night, which is normally not the best night for a show, because I'm tired and worn down from the week and anxious about staying out too late. As it got closer to Thursday, however, I got more and more excited about seeing the Manics again. When the time actually came to leave work and head over to the Metro, I had butterflies in my stomach and nervous energy like you wouldn't believe. I've seen the Manics twice before at English music festivals, but nothing that compares to being in a smaller venue with a few hundred hardcore fans that have either never had the chance to see them before or have waited ten years for the chance to do it again.

(More of Jon's awesome pictures HERE)

I'd read somewhere that Nicky Wire hurt his back earlier in the year, so I was worried that he'd be less enthusiastic or, even worse, obviously in pain, but there was no sign of any of that. James and Nicky (I couldn't really see Sean) were all smiles, jumping around like they're younger than me and absolutely destroying my eardrums all night long. Four days later, I still don't think my hearing is back to normal and I can't stop humming their songs. If you haven't gotten the chance to check out their newest CD, Journal for Plague Lovers, (it came out pretty recently in the U.S.) please do. It's beautiful and powerful and stuck in my brain.

I sometimes wonder if I'm doing myself a disservice by clinging so tightly to some of the same bands I've been listening to since I was a teenager, but when they continue to come out with brilliant new albums and tour them with such passion, I can't help but fall in love all over again. I don't know if I'll ever feel the same way about a "new" band as I do The Charlatans or the Manics or Super Furry Animals, etc. They came into my life at a time when I was really starting to understand the power of music, and the fact that they're still around and relevant just proves to me that I was right all along. There's something special there, and I'm a lucky girl to have the opportunity and means to experience it.

Any other week, I'd probably be able to write a full post about Big Fan, a movie we saw on Friday starring Patton Oswalt. Patton is another comedian that I feel like I've gotten to know better through podcasts, and another extremely funny person that I got to see this week. Because this post is already far too long, though, I'll keep it simple and say that the movie was really good. It's written by the guy who did The Wrestler, (he was also there for the Q&A after the movie was over) and from what I have heard, it's just as dark, if not darker. It deals with obsession, depression, rejection, love, hate, failure, and other such themes, but still manages to be pretty funny. I'd recommend it, though it may be hard to find, as it's currently only being played in a few cities at a time. Patton did one of the best Q&As I've seen so far and had me laughing so hard at one point that I was actually crying. How many people can do that?

So that's my week (well, three days of it anyway). I've been meaning to post for a while, and in my downtime have neglected to talk about World's Greatest Dad (another really dark, really funny film) and a few other things I've been slightly obsessed with over the past month or so. We also went to Milwaukee last weekend, which was much more exciting than I would have guessed, but I suppose all of this will have to wait for another day. Till then, please enjoy some Hard 'N Phirm and Manics:


Camera Crazy said...

When you wait forever to post it can't be too long! Thank God for all the great experiences you can have in Chicago--glad you two are having so much fun. Currently my iTunes is hiding otherwise I'd listen to the MSP right now after reading your awesome descriptions.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

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