Tuesday, September 04, 2007


A couple things struck me immediately as my friend Travis and I walked to the back of a short queue in front of UVM’s Patrick Gym to get into the Zach Galifianakis show last night:

1) It was a much smaller line than at the Dane Cook show we went two a couple years back
2) We were by far the oldest people in line

We attributed the first observation to the frat-boy nature of Cook’s humor and (more importantly) his sex appeal to the young female crowd. Travis and I decided that if Zach Galifianakis was considered a sex symbol then we would be beating off the ladies with a stick. And that obviously isn’t happening.

The second observation I still can’t figure out. I was expecting to see a lot of late-20s/early 30s educated hipster types in the crowd, and instead it was just a group of UVM freshman, mostly in the usual costume of “rich hippie” with guys in Birkenstocks and American Eagle t-shirts and girls with au natural makeup and overpriced potato sack dresses. I doubt there were most than a half-dozen people in the crowd over 25, Travis and myself included.

We chatted a few of the UVM kids in line, most of whom seemed to not really know who Galifianakis was or how to pronounce his name. The ones who were familiar with his work seemed to know him from his movie role in the snowboarding comedy “Out Cold” and his recent music video for Kanye West (not surprisingly, I got a blank look when I mentioned his creative partners Fiona Apple and Will Oldham).

One young lady seemed particularly intrigued by our knowledge of Galifianakis’ stand-up act and picked our brains about everything from “Live at the Purple Onion” outtakes to the Comedians of Comedy tour. When we mentioned that he once berated a drunk woman who came on stage and starting playing his piano, she remarked “Really? Oh, I’m so going to do that. I really want him to yell at me.”

When the doors opened a little after 7, we walked into the gym and headed for some seats near the front. The girl from the line grabbed my arm and said “I want you to sit near me so you can tell me what to do to get him to talk to me!” I had no ambition to incur the angry Greek wrath of one of my comedic heroes so I pretended to follow someone into the row behind her. She shrugged and took her seat.

Once Travis and I were firmly planted in our hard metal folding chairs in the forth row, we made a few more observations:

1) There were a lot less people here than the Dane Cook show (in fact, half of the auditorium was closed off)
2) We were damn close to the stage.
3) It was really, really fucking hot in there.

We spent the next hour listening to mediocre indie rock and reminiscing about our favorite Zach Moments: his awkward clapping in the audience of the Ellen Show, lip synching to “You Bring Me Joy”; his stand-up gig in an elementary school classroom, etc.

Just as the heat and boredom was about to overtake us, the head of the UVM student union took the stage and introduced the opening act, a guy whose name I forget who recently appeared on some late-night show whose name I forget. All in all, a pretty mediocre set that was, well, forgettable. All I remember is a litany of bad jokes about drinking and “magic mushrooms”—not exactly ballsy jokes for a college crowd.

Almost immediately after “The Opener” left the stage, Zach came bursting through the door and took the stage just a few feet in front of us. In what became a night of many observations, a couple more things struck me:

1) Zach looks a lot shorter in person.
2) Zach looked remarkably healthy.

Almost immediately, he addressed the source of my first observation—he was cutting back on his drinking. Good for him; mostly every video I had seen him in featured either a tired, hung-over Zach or a smiling pint-in-hand Zach. In the age of Lohan and Winehouse, it’s nice to see a celebrity who cuts back on the mind-altering substances when fame hits instead of the other way around. Without the booze, he still seemed confident and zany, his two best characteristics and the ones I was most expecting to see taken away by the self-realizing chill of sobriety.

It didn’t take long for Zach to make a couple of observations of his own—

1) He wasn’t exactly thrilled to be performing in the middle of a basketball court
2) It was really, really, really fucking hot in there.

I felt his pain, especially on the second count. If I was sweating like a pig in the shade of the audience, I could only imagine what a guy who was carrying quite a bit more weight than me, covered in hot spotlights & wearing long slacks & a button-down shirt must be feeling. Not to mention the polyester Annie costume he was wearing underneath. More on that later.

The performance was great, if fairly typical Galifianakis fare (about 90% of the jokes I'd already heard from either the "Live at the Purple Onion" DVD or Comedians of Comedy). About 40 minutes into his set, Zach was obviously a bit annoyed by the heat & broke into the big finale--his (in)famous "Political Annie" routine.

Even though I'd seen it before, it was still great to see a grown, bearded man skip around a stage wearing an Annie outfit & sporadically flashing his hot pink man panties. Decide what you will what that says about me. After the lights went up I made a self-conscious dash towards the base of the stage in an attempt to grab a souvenir ripped page from Zach's write-board, but a couple spry young freshmen beat my old dulled reflexes to it.

As we walked out of the stifling gymnasium, Travis and I batted around the idea of heading to the bar at the Sheraton Hotel where we were sure we would run into Zach and change his mind about the whole abstinence thing, thus ruining a brilliant career. We decided against it though and made our way back to Travis' car. I looked back towards the gym and saw the girl we were talking to earlier who, not having had the contentious run-in with Zach that she had hoped for (the closest being a security guard who asked her to stop taking pictures), walked back towards her dorm with a look of confusion and disappointment in her eyes.


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Tanner M. said...

ooooooh rhinestone shirts! Teh interwebs have come far indeed.

Nice post Jay - makes me not feel so bad about not going, wanna go see smog in montreal sunday night?

jay said...

Would like to but I can't--already have tickets to the Feist show at the Flynn.