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Friday, April 5, 2013

Kristen Schaal: “Live At The Fillmore” DVD Review

Comedian Kristen Schaal is known for her excellent work on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, where she discusses women’s issues. Live At The Fillmore is her first one-hour special for Comedy Central. Filmed at The Fillmore in San Francisco, this performance features her own particular quirky brand of comedy. A lot of it is quite good – that is, at least in the first half of the special. A little more than halfway through, she tries something different, and the performance goes completely off the rails.

She begins by teasing the crowd about what she plans to do: “I’m going to do two monologues – one regular, and one vaginal.” And then later, as promised, she does a bit making fun of The Vagina Monologues (a play I don’t care for at all). She really gets into the spirit of it, and it’s totally enjoyable. It does go on a bit long, however.

As most comedians do, she talks about dating. “My mom told me that the secret to pleasing a man is through his stomach. But I have found a convenient detour through the penis.” When she tells of accidentally touching one with her tongue, she says, “It tastes like fear.”  About the kind of man she’s looking for, she tells the audience, “I only look for one thing in guys – they just have to have a sense of humor…about their enormous cock.”

I love comedians who play with language, so of course I love her joke of combining pasta with anti-pasta. And regarding cooking, for one bit Kristen Schaal uses a few props – a pot, a wooden spoon and a lid. This is for a little play she’d written, and one which I’ll be re-enacting every time I cook from now on. “That spoon was played by Meryl Streep,” she says. (It’s interesting that using Meryl Streep as an example of a fantastic actor still works, even after she’s done several completely horrible films. I mean, hell, did you see Mamma Mia? Ugh.)

Kristen Schaal does a weird thing partway through her performance, where she suddenly pretends she’s not a very good comedian. She does two deliberately awkward jokes - a lazy eye joke followed by an airplane joke. And then she just stops. The camera crew gets some shots of the audience looking concerned. She leaves the stage to get some water. It’s certainly different from anything I’ve seen other comedians do (though it reminds me of stories of Andy Kaufman), but it doesn’t quite work.

A child then comes on stage from the audience and rips on Kristen and then tells some jokes. Again, it’s different, but it goes on a bit long. And even after that, Kristen continues with her shtick of things going wrong by calling on a horse who has decided to abandon her and show business, and then having cricket sounds after another joke.

And she actually walks off stage a second time. There’s some nonsense backstage, which I assume was filmed later. It’s all more than a bit indulgent, and not very funny. She goes back on stage and says, “Obviously, this comedy special didn’t work.” And though she’s joking, the fact is the second half the special doesn’t work at all.

There are shots of the audience leaving, so they were in on it to a certain extent, obviously. But that just left me wondering what the audience actually saw that we didn’t.

Special Features

This DVD has several special features, and this is one DVD where the special features are actually better than the main program.

The first is Comedy Central Presents Kristen Schaal, which is approximately twenty-one minutes of a live performance in New York. Interestingly, she has another animal ditch her in this one. This time, it’s a bird. But it’s much funnier here, especially as she gets a telephone call from the bird. Also in this performance, she has someone come up from the audience, and she works it in better than in the main feature. Her use of the cake as prop is great. I also really dig her bit on Anne Boleyn.

The second bonus feature is Kristen’s Performance On John Oliver’s New York Stand-up Show. This is a really hilarious performance in which she asks, “Is that a ghost or a donkey or a sandwich or what?” It’s a shame that certain words (like “shit” and “blowjob”) are cut. Kristen also asks the important question, “If you were to send a werewolf to the moon, would he be a werewolf permanently?” This special feature is approximately seventeen minutes.

The bonus features also include three of Kristen Schaal’s appearances on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.  In the first she talks about “cougars” (older women who go after young men). She warns Jon Stewart, “She can smell your fear, and that’s one of her turn-ons.” As funny as that is, the second segment is even funnier. It’s titled “Rape Victim Abortion Funding.” The third segment is also quite good, and is titled “The Married Vs. Single Woman Vote.”  These segments are approximately five to six minutes each.

Kristen Schaal: Live At The Fillmore was released on April 2, 2013.


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