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Friday, October 5, 2007

My Original un-edited Review

I am posting this recent review because my editor chopped it up. I guess he needed space, nevertheless, I resent him replacing lukewarm with warm-over. He essentially took a lot of bite out of my original and I was left with that empty- embarassed feeling.
So without further ado enjoy!

Daily Show’s Rory Albanese Barely Finds Utica

On Septemeber 29th Rory Alabanese, writer and Emmy winning Co-Executive Producer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart finally performed at Mohawk Valley Community College as part of the Community College’s 2007 Cultural Series.

The show, originally scheduled for Sept 15th, was cancelled due to Rory’s Emmy nomination. He barely made this one too. His late arrival ( hour and a half) from New York City came courtesy of bad directions. In his words “The time we wasted we could have been in Montreal”.

Too bad for us.

After all “its only Utica” and a big time Emmy winner scheduled to perform prior to his big time nomination had to channel all his comedic energy to make this decidedly insignificant show. To share the workload and kill time he brought along two writers from The Daily Show.

The two writers on the show who accompanied him, Adam Lowitt and Rich Blumquist, didn’t just come along for the ride they ‘performed’ as well. They also, according to Albanese, were responsible for the late arrival. Albanese quipped “ We got a Mapquest guy and a google guy; they both were wrong” People in the crowd -some with their arms crossed all night- had to muster up the effort to laugh. Maybe it was the timing; or even the long ride, whatever the reason, it wasn’t funny.

If they were good the presence of two extra performers could have been considered a bonus instead they waded through vague material that elicited a smattering of laughs at best. Attending the show gave many an opportunity to think about bills, upcoming essays, loved ones, favorite presidential candidate, prostate exams , you get the point.

To their defense, stand-up is not their forte’. Writing is. What they do for the Daily Show is very demanding and they must deliver on a Daily basis. That alone does not excuse the lukewarm performance. In fact I am being merciful.

The first performer was Adam Lowitt. Lowitt started his career as an intern on The Daily Show and seemed comfortable on stage. In fact, his stage presence rivaled Albanese. He provided some marginally funny personal stories and in the right situation he could have a living room full of family and friends laughing for hours. Instead he tested his latest material out on the crowd who responded with intermittent chuckles and merciful applause.

Next was Rich Blumquist. Blumquist started out bad and got worse. “Utica sounds like a prison; a super max where there are only two ways out” -the crowd anticipating something, anything funny waited- “In a pine box or a car”

Somewhere in the auditorium a cricket chirped.

Blumquist’s stage presence conjured images of Rainman or someone suffering from Asperger Syndrome. His inability to connect to the audience with jokes led to an impromptu and abrupt end to his- according to Lowitt- third disastrous try at stand-up.

Strike three.

At one point he segued into a joke with “this isn’t even a joke”. Almost everyone agreed. Many people were perplexed. To his credit I surmise his cerebral humor was probably funny on paper, just like The No Child Left Behind Act but, like our educators, he was unable to translate it.

The headliner, Rory Albanese started out admonishing the crowd “Give it up! Lets hear it Utica”!!! the crowd responded with premature applause. He continued alienating proud Uticans with “The Mohawk Valley huh? If that’s what you want to call it.”

One thing is true. On the ‘cool’ scale New York City has Utica beat, but these guys are not the reason , it is the art, the food, the diversity and the cab drivers who don’t speak English - not Rory Albanese. I am positive when the list of cool things to do in NYC is released they are nowhere on it.

He detailed their odyssey from New York City to Utica, which everyone knows, is right off the tollway. He knew they were lost when they got to gas station and the attendant with one arm and no teeth gave them directions “I though the people in Utica had teeth” he shared.

His obvious strength is in Improv. There was an uncharacteristically funny exchange between him and several audience members on the food choices in The Mohawk Valley. “Big Food….. just give me Big Food….. cut out the middleman and inject it directly into my heart” You had to be there, on second thought you didn’t; but it was all about timing and he did well, for five minutes at least.

A few more people yelled out some disturbing viewpoints on race. One brave or chemically imbalanced audience member yelled “The arabs have co-opted all the corner stores” It was during a particularly quiet stretch in his routine. There were no cricket chirps like Blumquist but nevertheless he struggled with the upstate mentality. “Gosh you people only laugh at racial jokes” he candidly observed. “ What is this a Klan rally”?

He got political. Fans of The Daily Show were definitely happy to hear him wax philosophical on solutions to the war in Iraq. “We need to drop X-Box’s, Playstation 3’s, by the thousands; give em’ generators because we destroyed their infrastructure. In a few years there will be no more suicide bombers the kids will rebel against their militant parents just like American kids rebel against their parents”

The rest of his performance sailed over the heads of most of the audience. He spoke of excess and the consumer mentality of American society.

After his performance all three sat for a question and answer segment that included a lot of questions about the real, newsworthy relevance of The Daily Show. They each reminded the crowd on separate occasions “ it is comedy, it is not in any way serious”.

The sad state of affairs in the world give them plenty of opportunities to highlight the shortcomings of our political leaders. They deserve kudos for doing just that, but stand-up requires a little bit more and on September 29th they didn’t bring their ‘A-game’. We can’t, in good conscience, let them off the hook.


fairlane said...

Personally, I think it's harder to be funny when you're writing.

David B. Dancy said...

I totally agree

Chuck said...

Blanket comment around the blogs:

Some of my newer net friends (including fairlane up there :)) get an overdue mention as I visit around the blogs today-
HERE'S THE TRUTH: We took the wrong path.

Thanks for being here! :)

Granny said...

Fairlane is threatening us if we don't visit so here I am.

I know where the Mohawk Valley is. I spent the first 18 years of my life in Ilion. Back then, Utica was the big city and we planned for weeks to make the 60 mile trek to Syracuse.

luminaria said...

That alone does not excuse the lukewarm performance. Who in their right mind would change it to "warm-over"?

Thought-provoking. Keep their feet to the fire, David. I gave you a shout out on today's post.

Gary said...

Fairlane sent me. Tell her so she doesn't kick my Canadian ass.

Interesting, thoughtful and entertaining blog. Unlike some comedy writers you know...

fairlane said...

Hey Dave, I have a proposal for you.

When you get a chance send me an email through my "contact" link on my blog. It's at the top in my sidebar.

Peace and gravy