by: Addison Smith | the duquesne duke
Walking into the Oddball Festival at First Niagara Pavilion Saturday evening felt like walking into a carnival. Carnies were running around, juggling and stapling money to themselves before the pavilion opened for a night of comedy.
Oddball Festival is an annual comedy tour presented by “Funny or Die,” and performing at the Pittsburgh show were Brent Morin of Undateable, Michael Che of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Chris Hardwick of Talking Dead and @midnight, Hannibal Burress of Neighbors, Chris d’Elia of Undateable, Sarah Silverman, Jim Jefferies of Legit and long-time standup comedian Bill Burr.
Oddball Festival felt like an appetizer, you were happy for a short while, but you never truly got the full course. While there were certain comedians who faltered on stage, others were there to pick up the slack.
A big surprise of the night was Brent Morin, who was the first act on stage. His comedic timing was there and ready, while his ability to laugh at his own bits Jimmy Fallon style was endearing. To have him open the show set a high expectation, which wasn’t shot down until Sarah Silverman hit the stage
Yes, Silverman just won an Emmy. Yes, she is one of the queens of comedy. However, Saturday night, she wasn’t the Sarah Silverman we all know and maybe like.
She spent more time in the crowd than delivering jokes, and the ones she did deliver were rooted in pro-choice and feminist stances that a predominantly male audience wasn’t enjoying. Even she admitted that a lot of her material is now a work in progress because of how much time she spent on her Emmy winning HBO special, We Are Miracles. She was a comedian in flux, not fully committed to any material and lacking a good punch.
In a similar state of flux was Jim Jefferies, whose new special, Jim Jefferies: I Swear to God, was recently released on Netflix. However, Jefferies took advantage of the situation and tested new jokes and anecdotes with more charisma than Silverman. Jefferies appeared unafraid to take a leap and attempt new material. His story of how Neil Diamond’s plan to return to America downgraded Jefferies’s seat from business class to economy was a new bit, but it landed unlike some of Silverman’s attempts.
One of the standout comedians of the evening was Chris d’Elia, who explained why boys and girls could never truly be friends (the reason is Un-Duquesneable) and fed off of the audience, seemingly adjusting his material as he went along for the crowd.
The last comedian of the night was Bill Burr, who took a completely different route than Sarah Silverman and bashed feminism. Burr harped on how First Ladies shouldn’t have anything they advocate and expressed his disdain for a female president.
He tried to redeem himself by saying that if there ever was a female president, he would expect the First Man to not use his position to advocate either. He used no material, but rather used First Niagara Pavilion as a place to rant about things instead of using actual stand-up bits.
Overall, Oddball was a good experience, but some of the comedians attending didn’t seem to care about the venue and shrugged off Oddball as 20 minute sets and not something worth coming up with new material for.
That was the biggest disappointment of the evening: the fact that some didn’t seem to care about the audience, but rather fulfilling contractual