Review: Eugene Mirman and “Pretty Good Friends” At The Paradise In Boston, MA
Eugene Mirman and Pretty Good Friends Rating:
March 1, 2011
Reviewed by: Dorise Gruber
Eugene Mirman, along with “Pretty Good Friends” Tom Allen, Kumail Nanjiani, and Reggie Watts, entertained The Paradise on Tuesday with jokes, bizarre musical divergences, and fake mustaches. They described themselves as a sort of disorganized Stella without the suits, and shared that they almost marketed their New England junket as the “Accidentally Diverse Tour.” This would have been a pretty fitting description, given the fact that these four fellows hardly look as if they’re from the same planet, let alone like they’d be pals. Allen is a rather dainty British gay fellow (the hot pink pants were a giveaway), Nanjiani a former-Muslim Pakistani, Mirman of Russian Jewish descent, and Watts an African-American who looks kind of like a homeless dude that just stuck his finger in an electrical socket.
Despite their distinctive appearances and their varied comedy styles, this was a really solid show. The night kicked off with all four comedians onstage together, telling us about their day across the river and riffing off each other. They discussed how confusedly people in Harvard Square looked at the bunch, which wasn’t really helped by Watts playing the freak-card hunkering around like a Cro-Magnon ape-man. Thankfully, with the rest of them grinning in tow, smiles eased up some of the Cambridge purse-clutching.
When they went into solo sets, Allen was the first up. He regaled us with woe-is-me tales of failed attempts at aiding disabled men and falling victim to rookies on a “hate drive.” Nanjiani’s set followed, discussing life in Brooklyn – where men try to shove pigeons into their pants and his cat Bagel wards off nightmare ghosts.
Somewhat surprisingly, Mirman was not the headliner of his headlining show, and instead went up second-to-last. His set offered some zany tales of hotels requesting his emergency number, hearing knocking from the inside of a bathroom, and racism as a dating deal-breaker. He also called up an audience member to aid him in a sketch, while impersonating an alien trying to figure out the concept of speed dating. Mirman even hauled out a Theremin (the weird Halloween-y instrument) to underscore a series of Twitter quotes. He took a break to give gifts to the audience and get photos of us all wearing hundreds of dollars’ worth of fake mustaches, but the best part of the set was him sharing completely deranged signs of facebook ads he’d found and subsequently created, as well as tea party slogans he composed. I guess that’s what happens when facebook tries to sell a comedian in-home pet euthanasia.
Rounding out the show was Watts, who is really more of a comedian’s comedian. His comedy is a little more Meta and a little less accessible than the prior three performers’ styles, as it’s much less about anything that he’s actually saying and far more focused on delivery. He started out the set walking around the stage adjusting mics in weird positions, would ramble ridiculous stories with bizarre accents and intentional mispronunciations in monotone, and at one point even walked behind the stage’s back curtain, so all you saw was a curtain-lump babbling about snowmobiles in Montana. The coolest part of the set, though, was his use of loop and distortion pedals, doing a Thom Yorke impression and finishing the show with a “Pretty Good Friends” rap.
It’s rare to see a set of accomplished comedians performing in a rock club, but it was a smart choice for this tour, adding to the intimacy and accessibility of the show. They may not have been aiming for diversity in race, culture, and comedic styling, but these four comic-cronies put together a fantastically interesting set. Lucky for us, then, that they’re such good pretty good friends.
For more info on Eugene Mirman and the Pretty Good Friends Tour visit Mirman’s official site here.