Insert weed pun here: Doug Benson lights up Turner Hall
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For being the most superlative stoner in an industry with no shortage of people who smoke up, comedian Doug Benson has no trouble getting things done. The Super High Me star has developed a cottage industry in the realm of podcasting with Doug Loves Movies and The Benson Interruption, making the rounds on dozens of other ’casts, not to mention regularly touring the country to spread the green gospel. Sunday night, Benson blew into town to treat a seemingly full Turner Hall (but according to the headliner, closer to 250 people worth) to close to 90 minutes of movie commentary, tour memories, and—of course—a heft of weed jokes.
The show started in unorthodox fashion, as Benson shambled out to the microphone to tell the crowd he wasn’t going on yet, then proceeding to read and respond to Twitter at-mentions sent by people in the crowd. After one-liners that peaked with him asking whether @PolishAndrew1’s friends call him @PollockAndy, Benson introduced opener Graham Elwood. When Elwood had won the crowd over with regional riffs on the Bong Recreation Area and Mars Cheese Castle he’d gleaned in his Madison youth, Benson was out again, this time to stay.
Widening his ever-present squint a bit, Benson peered at a tiny piece of paper that served as his set list because, as he explained, he had trouble remembering stuff. “Know how bad my memory is?” he asked. “It says, ‘Hey, everybody’ at the top.” Flipping the list, he added, “Spoiler alert. It says ‘Goodnight, everyone’ at the end.” After going off-script to rag on the downtown meter bags and a group of guys in the front row wearing shorts despite the rainy conditions outside, Benson summoned the paper again. “It says here that I like movies,” he deadpanned.
From there, the movie podcast host showcased both his extensive film knowledge and his comic prowess with satisfying bits about Taken 2’s failure to deliver a titular line and nicknaming hand jobs “Fast Five”s. This enabled a series of wholly unrelated, but equally hilarious tangents about snapping a bee with a towel while sitting in a jacuzzi, shaking the hand of a six-fingered fan in Denver, and his hatred of parades. “Fuck parades. Parades are just people who are moving, waving at people who are waving and standing still.”
Of course, Benson didn’t Bogart his potent pot-able punchlines. His anecdotes about his brief tour with Tommy Chong—cut short when fans throwing weed on stage violated Chong’s probation—and the slow advancement of marijuana legalization were equal portions funny and pointed. He lamented his four times being caught smoking pot in his hotel room, including being docked an additional $200 for smoking at a hotel in Appleton. “You know, Appleton has a Houdini Museum,” he said, pausing for effect. “Because everybody who lives there wishes they could disappear.”
After one more hit of weed humor, Benson brought Elwood back out and sought cards from audience members interested in participating in the Doug Loves Movies favorite, the Leonard Maltin Game. A patented pot-head couple was bested by Elwood in round one. But a fan named Nathaniel took him to task with an impressive knowledge of Fargo to put a triumphant end to an assorted evening of laughs for smokers and non-smokers alike. Apologizing for the time between visits, Benson promised to return before stepping off stage.