We examine three very unique & very different type of performers/entertainers that take the comedy platform to new innovative places with one thing they all have in common is earnest, weapons grade wit.
Rob Lowe's Stories I Only Tell My Friends Live - April 25th - Winspear Opera House - Dallas, TX
As an adult who grew up in the 1980's I will always feel a kinship to a certain set of actors that appeared in movies that I enjoyed as a kid that that defined the decade that in a sense defines me. Honestly I've never felt such affinity for Rob Lowe. Sure he was in St Elmo's Fire & the Outsiders and played the bad guy in Wayne's World but all I really knew about him was that my sister loved him.
It wasn't until an oft narrator job that endeared him to me truly, probably the first time he wasn't noticed first for his looks. Again I'm obsessed with the 80's like an good Gen-Xer so I very much enjoyed National Geographics' The 80's - The Decade that Made Us back in 2013 but the real star of the series was it's narrator. I didn't recognize it as Rob Lowe until I looked for it in the credits because I wanted to know who it was. This led me to reading his very good (& very funny) book Stories I Only Tell My Friends, so now I was excited to see it as a one-man show live.
After the performance begins with a series of clips showcasing Lowe's impressive range and far-reaching career of eclectic dramatic and comedic projects, the man himself appears onstage. He opens himself up in an honest, personal look at his private and professional life and how he's reached where he is today.
Admittedly it's still a work in progress. It is true that some bits feel more polished than others, not fitting as seamlessly as they could. However, for the most part the show is in pretty good shape if not for lacking in sincerity in certain places most notably at the end. Most stories are intensely interesting and are woven together with the others in unexpected, entertaining ways.
The humor is first class, with the jokes and funny anecdotes as much of the credit must go to Lowe's smart self-deprecating manner and great comic timing.
Projections of photographs and video clips from Lowe's personal archives add enjoyment to the stories he tells. The highlight is a super 8 movie made in his teenage years by himself, his brother Chad & childhood friend Charlie Sheen in his father Martin Sheen's back yard.
The evening wrapped up with a warm, friendly Q&A session in which Lowe interacted with his fans and provided nuggets of information that supplemented and complemented the show that had preceded it & can be enjoyed by anyone interested in the inner workings of Hollywood.
Weird Al Yankovic's Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour - April 27th - The Majestic Theatre - Dallas, TX
This tour finds the musician performing smaller venues with his five-piece band performing on stools with no costumes, no frills, and, most crucially, playing all original songs – his lesser-known (but still beloved by fans) "style parodies."
If anyone's earned a self-indulgent vanity tour it's Yankovic, an artist in the fifth decade of his career in a genre that isn't supposed to last more than a year or two at most. And stripping away fat suits and Quincy Jones' Michael Jackson arrangements gave us a glimpse at how.
The first two songs were soft rock style parodies of Ben Folds and Hanson, but then Yankovic paused and said "have we rocked the house yet?" That segued into I'll Sue Ya, a song about an overly litigious narrator performed in the style of Rage Against The Machine. Guitarist Jim "Kimo" West and bassist Stephen Jay (both in the Weird Al band since the 80s) were just as adept at Killin' In The Name Of-style riffing as gentle pop, jazz and blues – at least as authentic as a Prophets of Rage show. Yankovic said after the song that "now we're going to go back to not rocking the house," but the band still got some time to shine. Throughout the night Weird Al yelled out for solos, and they each got about three notes apiece.
The style parodies tend to be where Yankovic betrays his true taste (versus his biggest hits, which follow whatever is on the pop charts at the time), and you could see the glee he had in playing the songs live, some for the first or second time ever. Fan favourite Dare To Be Stupid, meanwhile, was transformed from its nervy Devo roots into a loungey blues number that setlist.fm calls the "Grateful Dead version."
At their heart, the songs are all little experiments in voice, tone and genre, not that far separated from a more "serious" band like the Magnetic Fields. You take a style of music and a comedic persona (often at odds with each other), commit hard to both, make sure they rhyme and fit the metre, throw in a few references to spam or piranhas, and you've got a Weird Al song. But if it's so easy, why hasn't anyone else had the same success?
It's partially a result of his longevity. Many in the crowd were clearly fans for decades, each with their own bucket list set list (the few who yelled out for his biggest hit White & Nerdy were met with an emphatic "No!"). But it's also the very real songcraft. The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota is a Gordon Lightfoot quest epic on a not-so-epic scale, Nature Trail To Hell is every "spooky" song cliche turned up to 11.
He did eventually play some of his hits, albeit as a bluesy/jazzy MTV Unplugged medley. Eat It got the acoustic Eric Clapton Layla treatment, Amish Paradise was very tasteful, I Lost On Jeopardy got a nice walking bassline and Like A Surgeon was a dramatic ballad showstopper.
After an encore brought them back and a wide-eyed Yankovic deadpanned "we were not expecting THIS," the band did a first-time experiment: the Ventures' surf-rock classic Wipe Out played in four keys at once. It was both proof he could pull off a Weird Al-style musical joke without any lyrics, and a reminder that music is something you play – much appreciated at a time when even throwback 90s party pop is taken very seriously.
Dare to Be Stupid
Young, Dumb & Ugly
The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota
Nature Trail to Hell
Good Old Days
Let Me Be Your Hog
Don't Download This Song
When I Was Your Age
Why Does This Always Happen to Me?
I'll Sue Ya
You Don't Love Me Anymore
Eat It / I Lost on Jeopardy / Amish Paradise / Smells Like Nirvana / White & Nerdy / I Love Rocky Road / Like a Surgeon
Fire and Rain (James Taylor cover)
The Saga Begins
All in all, very impressive. And very self-indulgent.
Kate Quigley - April 26th - Hyena's - Plano,TX
So if you know anything about Kate Quigley (which you should) is that she's super smart, hysterically funny & as blisteringly gorgeous as she is honest. I stereotypes in general as a rule but my least favorite are the ones about women only having one skill set. "Wait, you mean she's hot AND funny? - Bugs the shit outta me as if a woman somehow has to choose or the small mind of an average male can't comprehend both or would suggest that being attractive make them less funny. I mention this because Kate even challenges me on this because no one I've ever seen is this level of both & somehow the hotter she is the funnier the material is. She is truly one of a kind.
The show here in question was a modest opening night on a free Thurs before delving into multiple show nights in Dallas.
Even after just waking up from a post cross country flight nap she was in fine form. Her genius is that she is able to convey intimacy to a group of strangers & make them feel in on it.
I met Kate who is a mainstay in the most potent comedy circles in Hollywood & that comedian that even if you haven't heard of her yet all the other comedians that you have heard of know all about her. I first met her in Las Vegas back in 2016 when she co-hosted the AVN Awards otherwise known as the Oscars of Porn to give you a roadmap that she is unflinching in her approach to comedy.
Since then we have been mainly Twitter buddies & was excited that she was coming to town & was hoping to be able to sit down for a chat for our TrickyKid Radio Podcast. Kate is awesome & was into the idea & we tried to make it work but I can certainly relate to the stresses & demands of touring performer so hopefully next time we are in the same city at the same time, we can make it happen.
In the meantime, definitely check out our TK Radio archives & Kate's awesome podcast Date Fails.