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The Talent Show Presents: The Leap Year Show w/H. Jon Benjamin, Jon Glaser, Lady Aye, Ménage à Twang, Patrick Borelli, and others
Wednesday, February 29
Better than: Staying home to watch Family Guy. (But only slightly better than staying home to watch Archer.)
Since the brilliant FX spy cartoon Archer might be intended as a vicious Aqua Teening of intelligence agencies and our decade of national security hysteria, you have to wonder whether lead voice actor H. Jon Benjamin may have been trying to do the same to overly serious electronic music when he took the stage last night as the musical guest for Elna Baker and Kevin Townley’s popular variety show The Talent Show. Or maybe he’d giggle a bit at the idea of his goofy show spawning such a pretentious opening line—and wouldn’t that be glorious, with his fantastic baritone—because he was just totally winging it as he pretended (I would assume) to be a stunningly incompetent bedroom beatmaker.
Benjamin’s instantly identifiable voice—bearing a newfound Boston accent and chanting his own band’s name—emerged from stage left in apparent hope that the crowd would join in, an invitation that was repeatedly declined despite his many valiant attempts to start it up again. We were informed that the band hailed from Gloucester, Massachusetts—that’d be Benjamin’s bearded, plaid-shirted, beer-swigging frontman and the two quieter accompanying band members who just stood around the whole time, partaking only in the swigging end of the enterprise while Benjamin gave a long-winded intro that ultimately outweighed his “performance” by a substantial margin. The band’s name, “The Perfect Storm,” was meant to eulogize those lost in the big Nor’easter of 1991, during which “a fuckin’ lot of fishermen died,” apparently. “It was like our 9-11,” he added. “You guys had yours, and we had ours. Except we called it 9-1.”
And then—eventually, finally—the music, ostensibly emanating from a cheap sampler that was later proven to be a mere prop, doing nothing more than retriggering masterfully inappropriate vocal samples which were overlaid so dramatically atop of the music that we’d do well to praise the deadpan delivery of the box (“G-g-g-gloucester!”, “Sh-sh-sh-sh-shut the fuck up, you stupid cunt!”). A plant in the crowd, playing the part of the house mix engineer, ran up on stage to help Benjamin troubleshoot his equipment, which at one point involved completely unplugging it. This did not actually stop the music, much to the crowd’s amusement. (I was honestly surprised that so many people actually noticed and got the joke, but I guess Justice ruined it for everybody else.)
Littlefield is a smallish bar in rural south Brooklyn that doesn’t at all resemble the clubs they were mocking, so the room was in hysterics by the time the band started tossing out the glowsticks and balloons and such. They mostly just flopped around pathetically for the rest of the set. Which, as it turns out, lasted for only one song, and ended with Benjamin again trying to rouse the audience to create a dancing mob, again unsuccessfully. This was probably the more entertaining result, though, since it meant his final act before exiting the stage was screaming into one poor front-row fan’s chuckling face: “GET UP! GET THE FUCK UP! IF YOU GET UP THEN EVERYONE ELSE WILL TOO, IT’S A MOB MENTALITY! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?”
Maybe it’s just me, folks, but perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned here? Remember, this is an election year.
Critical bias: It could be reasonably argued that I sometimes take electronic music too seriously.
Overheard: I actually don’t have anything to put here because there was just too much laughing during far too short a set, so instead let me reiterate: “Sh-sh-sh-sh-shut the fuck up, you stupid cunt!”
Random notebook dump: This was most assuredly the highlight of the evening, which is high praise considering that the show culminated in a game of “PowerPoint Roulette” between Benjamin, Delocated creator/star Jon Glaser, and a fellow who has an entire comedy festival named after him—that is, comics improvising their way through presentations downloaded from the internet, a new surprise to be wrangled on every slide. (Benjamin drew ????.ppt from the hat, so named because the hosts had not been able to figure out the presentation’s topic or purpose.)