Oddball Comedy & Curiosity tour invades Pittsburgh for Saturday laughfest

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There were no oddballs among the comedians who played the First Niagara Pavilion Saturday night. If anything, the comedy stuck pretty closely to raunchy us-vs.-them banter, usually along the expected gender battle lines.

The seven guys on the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival bill delivered many a joke that seemed to play directly to man-cave inhabitants, who laughed uproariously over knuckle-dragging, battle-of-the-sexes jokes. A heckler was removed after yelling for Hannibal Buress to leave the stage after the comedian — an obvious sports fan — said he didn’t like baseball. The nerve! Several of the comedians advised hostile audience members to keep quiet and tweet the hate, “like you usually do.”

Mr. Buress, who arrived onstage wearing a jumpsuit emblazoned with a giant portrait of himself, took a few minutes to get back to his set after being shaken out of his timing. He finally explained his disdain for the American pastime. 

“I’m not a big baseball fan because nothing happens,” he said, and offered the example, “The no-hitter is considered one of baseball’s biggest achievements, and nothing happens.”

The lone woman among the guys, recent Emmy winner Sarah Silverman, started with a rape reference and proceeded to get edgier from there. She worked from notes part of the time and touched on subjects such as the message Barbie dolls send our daughters and a woman’s right to choose, the latter a big part of her night’s agenda. After she went into the audience and had a sweet moment with a woman named Katy, where they listed compliments about each other, Ms. Silverman said she had a question for a “straight male who loves God.” She then asked the volunteer a vulgar question and had to shush hecklers who were none too pleased. Undaunted, she continued with the warning, “The God people aren’t going to like this,” and then went into ironic wordplay about abortion and references to 9/11 and the Holocaust.

“Too soon with the Holocaust?” she asked. For some, maybe, but the crowd seemed to be mostly on her side.

On a hot night in Burgettstown, there were no lawn loungers and the seats were mostly filled by the time Ms. Silverman came on, in the midst of the second half of the show. She lamented that her time was short, but Aussie comedian Jim Jefferies followed with one of the longest sets of the night. He included an X-rated rant about fatherhood and why he wouldn’t be having a Mother’s Day celebration for his girlfriend, a former model who dated an NBA player (“I didn’t get the model years”).

Mr. Jefferies ended with a circuitous story about being bumped from his business-class seat on a British Airways flight, and there were funny parts to the tale of woe and the plight of “the downgraded” that left the crowd laughing for Bill Burr. The Monday Morning Podcast comedian kept the theme of the night going when he began with how annoyed he is with all of the exposure given to Michelle Obama and first ladies in general.

You’d think it was a rough night to be a woman from the sound of things, but the two 20-somethings seated behind me laughed uproariously with Chris D’Elia (NBC’s “Undateable), who summed things up by saying that all men want one thing from women, and they want it all the time, and all women want some things from men, some of the time. And therein is the root of the world’s problems.

On the big screens, you could clearly see the man of many expressions use them to great effect, and he seemed to enjoy prancing in his version of girls who say things like, “I’ve literally been running around all day.”

The night of comedy got off to a strong start when host Brody Stevens brought on Brent Morin, also of “Undateable.” Most of what Mr. Morin said is unprintable in a newspaper or on its website, but he had some interesting things to say about a boys’ teenage years and, for us older folks, about the impossibility of drunk-dialing a rotary phone.

He was followed by “Daily Show” correspondent Michael Che, who jumped into the topics of religion and race as a black man looking out at a mostly white audience. He got a lot of support from the audience when he said he was treated so well during a trip to the Middle East, he thought of converting, but the no-bacon rule was a deal-breaker.

Next came The Nerdist, Chris Hardwick, who left the stage to engage members of the audience and found himself talking to cancer victims, which some of the other comedians picked up on later. Mr. Hardwick moved along quickly and when he found someone with a student loan, he wondered why anyone would take out a student loan these days. “They come after you. … They would have found Bin Laden much earlier if he a student loan.”

At one point Mr. Hardwick launched into the voice of Bane — a very good imitation of Tom Hardy in “The Dark Knight Rises” (filmed in Pittsburgh, of course). It was one of the few nerdy references in his routine, which included a riff on his late father, an apparently embarrassing character, and an encounter that included animal costumes, his ex-girlfriend, a delivery man and a chihuahua.

Host Brody Stevens was a good cheerleader for the acts, who apparently were “crushing it,” each and everyone. DJ Trauma kept the crowd in a good mood and was in a proper Pittsburgh state of mind during the intermission, when he played the Penguins’ (and Gary Glitter’s) “Hey Song” and “Sweet Caroline” for Pitt fans.

The pavilion didn’t seem nearly as crowded as last year, when Dave Chappelle was the headliner, and the omnipresent signs that warned “no cell phones, no heckling, no talking,” etc., were nowhere to be seen this year. That made for a more relaxed night that included something to offend everyone, and a lot of laughs along the way.

Sharon Eberson: seberson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1960. Twitter: SEberson_pg.

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