Kramp & Adler’s Comedy Festival at Turner Hall
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For five years, FM 102/1’s morning duo of Kramp & Adler have picked up the “independent alternative” station’s otherwise Sublime and Linkin Park-laden programming with their legitimately humorous takes on local life. Beyond deliberating over “Who’s More Sheboygan?” and scouring the local Craigslist missed connections, the Kramp & Adler morning show also succeeds by bringing an assortment of nationally recognized comedians into the fold with interviews, in-studio appearances or—best yet—an annual comedy festival. Friday’s Turner Hall convergence of Marc Maron, Kristen Schaal, and Eugene Mirman was the second such festival hosted by Milwaukee’s best-known morning team.
No stranger to Milwaukee—if only because of his longstanding appearance on a local TV spot—Eugene Mirman incited the packed ballroom’s collective, nightlong belly laugh with his atonal, largely political humor. Much of his near-45-minute set hinged on strange experiences he’d had in his native New York, at a Sub Pop event at SXSW, whilst walking the streets of England, and in witnessing a shoe fight during a three-day layover in Milwaukee. But he won the crowd over with his alien impersonation, a tale of covert snooping, and slogan-submission on a Tea Party message board. “Obama is chamomile and we’re motherfucking oolong,” he screamed with feigned conviction.
The eccentric Kristen Schaal, who’s known for her work on Flight Of The Conchords and The Daily Show, followed Mirman and stole the show. With her cutesy voice and understated dress, Schaal found a way to make a brash barrage of one-liners about 9/11, JonBenet Ramsey, Terri Schiavo, and “hook dicks” seem wholesome. She promised two monologues—“one regular, one vagina”—as well as the ultimate dick joke, a 95-minute knock-knock joke, and that she’d find Amelia Earhart. While she didn’t make good on any of those promises, she did manage to take the crowd on an enjoyable ride on what she called “a motherfucking giggle-coaster,” complete with twists and turns made of sexual frustration, clever one-liners, performance of a “taintalogue,” and her energetic take on the infamous number from Flashdance—complete with four bucket-dousings by Mirman.
Whatever level of energy Schaal brought to the ballroom was immediately quashed by the pessimistic and matter-of-fact comedic stylings of Marc Maron. The popular podcast host and long-tenured comic’s 100-plus-minute set was rooted in self-deprecation, his failed marriages, his inability to get out of his own head, and his all-around self-saboteur behavior. At times, Maron, with his leather-patched tweed jacket and seated delivery, seemed to be delivering more of a philosophy lecture than a stand-up set to the steadily thinning crowd. But the blunt comedian took intermittent breaks from his public self-flagellation to spread his hilarious hatred to other avenues of life.
From comparing his worries about his cat to a mother’s worry for her son serving in Afghanistan, to his “What are you, just a collage of attempts at self?” take on hipsters and handlebar mustaches, Maron touched—no, hammered—on a myriad of things he hated in his delightfully downtrodden time on stage.
Before Maron exited, he was joined by Mirman, Schaal, Kramp, and a (seemingly piss-drunk) Adler for a few more jokes primarily aimed at one another. It may take another year of Pearl Jam, The Offspring, and other “alternative” radio before any such festival takes place in Milwaukee again, but if it’s anything like this one, it’ll be well worth the wait.