Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Will Ferrell's Funny Or Die Tour

My favorite celebrity jerk-off session was on the TV this week, but since Blades of Glory was snubbed in every category, I had to reluctantly pass on it this year. Instead, I chose to attend Will Ferrell's Funny Or Die tour at Radio City Music Hall, featuring three cherubic stand-ups and and Mr. Ferrell himself as the debonair MC. It soon became clear that I made the right decision.

The tour is sponsored by Ferrell's upcoming film Semi-Pro and the Funny Or Die website, a YouTube for comic sketches that often features Mr. Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and others of their merry band. This was the last stop on the 8 city tour, and every bit was well honed. With frequent co-writer and director Adam McKay as his announcer, Ferrell's entrance was teased with clips of his greatest work, including Old School, Talladega Nights, Unforgiven, and Platoon. The directors of the last two made curious decisions in having Farrell act in what looked like his own apartment, but his performance was stirring nonetheless. After defiantly entering the stage in a Patriots sweatshirt, he tore it off with the strength of Thor to reveal the Giants logo beneath. The crowd was agog. After a few pleasantries the Mortal Kombat theme song hit, and was Ferrell was soon fending off an array of ninjas with awe-inspiring athleticism. His balletic martial arts moves brought most of the crowd to tears, so powerful was their ascetic grace. Then, with absolute modesty, introduced the first comedian, Demetri Martin.

Martin: Heavily influenced by Steven Wright, but uses a guitar and visual aids to aid the deadpan. I can't remember many of the jokes, and to list them wouldn't capture their charm - it's all in the flat intonation.

Interim. Dark stage, lights go up to reveal Ferrell as one of those silver-painted street robot dancers. Is there a better name for them? Not sure. But, gyrating to Daft Punk's "Around the World", Ferrell made such questions seem meaningless. What are words in the face of such poetry? McKay disgustingly asked him to stop, and I wept. Then we received a few Oscar updates from gal-about-town Andrea Savage, who had earlier interviewed Javier Bardem (Fred Armisen) backstage. We discovered that John Travolta had won best actress for Hairspray, the cast of Falcon Crest was given an unnamed honor, and Carl Weathers had unconscionably been passed over. Such is life. Next stand-up: Nick Swardson.

Swardson: amiable foul-mouth that loves monkeys and old-people. Most memorable bit about a spider monkey in Las Vegas who would high five him for a dollar. He lost $300.

Then: that perfectly coiffed adonis, Ron Burgundy, graced us with his presence, and he soon brought out the one man who could compete with him in the news hair game, Tom Brokaw. The two legendary journalists covered the hot-button issues: that crazy party in Lake Tahoe when Diane Sawyer was topless, whether Brokaw would smoke a vial of crack to save the President's life, etc. Things got testy when Burgundy revealed his book, The Greater Generation: the Story of the '69 Miracle Mets, but luckily things ended amicably.

Zack Galifinakis was unlucky enough to follow that blast of genius, but he acquitted himself superbly. Like Martin, he's heavily influenced by the great Steven Wright, presenting a number of deadpan one-liners ("One thing a woman never wants to hear whispered in her ear: 'I'm going to perform jihad on your vagina'"), and ending in a blaze of Little Orphan Annie Glory, complete with glitter and lip-synching to "Tomorrow".

Inevitably, it ended with Ferrell, with his Capezio dance pants tucked into his Uggs, leading the whole production in a rousing rendition of Alicia Keys' "No One". During the course of this Utopic tune Ferrell was refused a wedding engagement and kissed Woody Harrelson. All the torrid passions of life in one five minute performance. Sublime.

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