Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.”
Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that she feels all you comedy lovers out there will appreciate.
So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!
Todd Barry is a sharp, precise joke writer. It speaks to his talent as a performer that he appears loose and not overly rehearsed, but if you follow his stuff from set-up to tag, it’s wonderfully efficient, high-percentage comedy. Zero fat. So why would a guy like that mount a seven-city tour doing two shows a night of nothing but crowd work? Turns out, because he’s very good at it.
Barry started his set for his second sold-out show at ImprovBoston’s 100-seat theater more understated than usual, speaking a couple of notches up from a whisper so the crowd had to lean in a little. The host introduced him by saying Barry wasn’t going to tell any jokes, “He’s just going to talk to you.” Barry acknowledged the premise and said, “It’s going to be an awful show. Terrible idea for a show.” He hyped the previous “Crowd Work” shows in Philly and New York and the early show, and then said he was due for a bad show and this was probably going to be it.He was vamping, catching a thread to establish his particular blend of mock arrogance, self-deprecation and sarcasm; and simultaneously getting himself and his audience in the flow. And he found a lot he could work with. Once on his feet, Barry started building a cast, addressing a woman in the front row who turned out to be an opera singer. “You do, like, the music version of what I do,” said Barry. “Most people don’t get it.” He picked a small group of five or six people and set them up like spinning plates, returning to them when the mood struck.