Todd Barry at Turner Hall
The laidback comedian totally killed it, Milwaukee style
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Todd Barry eased into Turner Hall Ballroom Sunday night like a whispery-voiced Trojan horse of sarcasm. While a sunken-eyed, monotone comedian could potentially come off as creepy, watching Barry's set felt more like being gently tickled with verbal quips delivered in a dried-to-perfection vein. Barry’s voice may be a little mellow, but that only makes the world around him more vividly idiotic.
Barry joked that "he strategically placed non-killing material” in the set so the audience could “re-group before I start killing again and bring it home, Milwaukee style." But he was consistently funny throughout the night. Some of his funniest bits were about restaurants, like how some people brag that their Italian grandmothers make the best food. But the $10 meal you get at an Italian restaurant comes with "a heapin' helping of not hanging out with your grandmother," he said.
Perhaps because of Barry's laidback style, it's easy to forget how sly he is at working the crowd. But Sunday's show included some generous audience-interaction workouts. "How cool would it be if I moved here?" he asked at one point. "Awesome!" shouted back one person. "I'm glad none of you other people piped in. We nailed that right out of the gate." Barry also discovered a 13-year-old fan sitting up in front: "That's really creepy. 'As a 13-year-old, I really enjoy the stuff about New York apartments. I totally relate to that.'" After that, he made a point of keeping things inappropriate: "Well, I guess I can't do a pedophilia joke right now. Oh, wait, I just remembered something—I can. Close them ears up, junior."
I actually could have used a tad less crowd banter and more of Barry's insanely well-crafted comedy material. Then again, his ability to awkwardly draw things out of photo-snapping audience members is what made the show so surprisingly intimate, especially as he attempted to coordinate an after-show party where 600 people would buy him Long Island Iced Teas.
Called back out for an encore, Barry asked, "Should I do classics? Should I refer to my own jokes as classics?" He then did some of his best “old” jokes, including a bit about seeing the bass player for the Spin Doctors reading Bass Player magazine.