Emily Fritz | A&E Editor
March 30, 2023
Stand-up comedy has been alive and well since its start in 1963, yet there is still a surrealism to seeing a celebrity comedian live and in the flesh.
Pittsburgh Improv in Homestead is well-respected for hosting a variety of high-profile comics, including T.J. Miller from March 23 to March 25.
Miller, who is known for his acting roles in the “Deadpool” franchise alongside numerous voice acting roles in movies like “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Big Hero 6,” is described as “one of the most sought after comedians in the world, certainly the northern part of the western hemisphere,” according to his bio on https://improv.com/pittsburgh/comic/t.j.+miller/.
During his hour-long stand-up set, Miller interacted with several audience members and strategically handled light heckling from the audience.
With a love for Pittsburgh, Miller touched upon the history of I.C. Light, Primant Bros. and Polish history in the area, using each as a jumping off point for new material and seamlessly connecting each subject to the next.
Miller delivers his comedy act under the philosophy that “life is fundamentally tragic and the best thing he can do is provide an ephemeral escapism from that tragedy by doing comedy.”
Through his connections with audience members, Miller created a space that allowed for crude humor without offense and manufactured a casual atmosphere, despite his fame.
In a shameless plug for Miller’s peanut butter and hot sauce products, a rowdy audience offered various dollar amounts to interact with the star.
Miller agreed to meet with fans but successfully deflected inappropriate remarks.
Toward the end Friday’s show, Miller encouraged attendees to tip wait staff well and had two shots delivered to him.
In an unplanned act, the actor invited one of his hecklers onstage to share a drink with him after baptizing him with “Protestant bourbon.”
The comedy act was self-described as “Smooth Like Fire, Hip Like Lincoln,” and Miller did not disappoint.
Traveling with Miller as an opening act was CJ Sullivan, who has previously written for A&E network, Comedy Central, Robert Smigel and XM/Sirius radio.
Sullivan has also gained popularity for his stand-up comedy album, “What am I Complaining About?” on iTunes.
The pair will continue “TJ Miller: The Gentle Giant Tour” in the U.S. before taking on a European theater in May.
Alongside the celebrity line-up, Pittsburgh Improv also invites a number of local comedians to perform.
Senneca Stone, local Pittsburgher and comedian, acted as the master of ceremonies, delivering a short set of his own before introducing the visiting stars.
Pittsburgh Improv strictly prohibits photography and recording of any kind, with a no-warning ejection policy.
The venue also practices a two-item minimum in addition to ticket prices. Small plates include bar appetizers, burgers, pizzas and salads.
While food and drink items are available to purchase, patrons are required to be of drinking age or older to attend shows unless otherwise noted.
The next comedian to visit will be Corey Holcomb from March 31 through April 1, followed by Brad Upton on April 2 and Kevin Farley on April 6.
Visit https://improv.com/ for show dates and ticket pricing at Pittsburgh Improv, or visit https://tjmillerdoesnothaveawebsite.com/ for future shows featuring Miller.