SXSW Comedy Review ft. Sinbad – Esther’s Follies (11.03.14)

You may have already read about some of my adventures earlier last week at the Hype Machine Party. I mentioned I snuck out during the set, and as it turns out, I actually ended up going to a SXSW comedy event for the first time, to catch “surprise” headliner Sinbad, in a showcase hosted by former SNL cast member Jim Breuer.

Like any comedy showcase, the night was hit and miss. I’ve actually never really seen much of Sinbad’s stand-up, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ve heard nothing but glowing things about the SXSW comedy showcases in general so I thought it was about time I finally gave it a viewing. And of course, Sinbad is a legendary comedian in his own right, so not a bad motivation… But the first thing I think I have to mention is that I now realise why I hadn’t gone to a comedy event until now. Sitting down at an event like this is hard when you haven’t slept more than 4 hours a night in a week. Which is pretty much the definition of SXSW for me. So keep in mind I was fighting through that the whole time.

So I’ll be paraphrasing a lot here… but let me try and give you a bit of an idea about how the night went down. The showcase opened with Sean O’Connor talking about eating pigs and shitting everywhere, which seemed to set the tone well for the evening. Jim Breuer then came on to introduce himself as the host of the night, as he told stories about going on an African safari with James from Metallica (complete with plenty of Metallica impressions), as well as the general look of his face… he’d later make some SNL references and would do a great job keeping the night moving, receiving plenty of laughs along the way, as did Sean beforehand.

Matt Braunger was our first showcasing comedian, talking about drinking as someone in their late 30s, alongside people in their late 20s, and how offensive alcohol advertising can be, “there’s no such thing as responsible drinking with jagerbombs!”. Touch√©. Nate Bargatze, who would be appearing on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon later that week, talked about laziness and not being in shape… and then it was time for Sinbad. He’s clearly funny, but his focus on talking about being married, and the differences between men and women, may have been a bit ahead of me… “Marriage is about how you outlive the other”. And children, “Dumb children don’t deserve phones smarter than them!”. He also took some questions from women in the audience about men, which yielded some great results. An entertaining, if not hilarious performance – though I feel I may not have been the target market. Such was how I felt about a lot of the comedians tonight… though you can also put that down to my exhaustion.

I did miss two of the comedians above, because I wanted to flag them as my highlights of the night, and exceptions to my earlier statement. First was local Maggie Maye – either a stage name inspired by the venue of the same name, or just a coincidence. She opened up talking about her sassy look/face, which was hilarious, and had one of my favourite quotes of the night, “How can you saw a white person is racist for doing black things without being racist by thinking there are “black things”!?”

Then there was North Carolinan Jerrod Carmichael, who had quotable moment after quotable moment. Definitely takes the prize home for the funniest of the night, at least for me. He strayed towards saying things that were controversial for an African American to say, such as the defense of the end result of slavery, “If it weren’t for slavery, I’d be in Africa right now!” and the brilliant, dry comment that came early in his set: “You know what ruined by rap career? My father never left.”

Pure brilliance. If you haven’t heard of this guy before, I recommend checking him out.

Though I wouldn’t outwardly recommend you attend a comedy showcase if you were me, if you’re not me you’re probably sleeping a little more than I am and it’s definitely worth it. The comedy component of SXSW grows every year and it’s certainly a nice breather from the epic amount of music you’ll experience elsewhere through the week. Plus, as you’ll see above, I’ve already discovered a great new comedian out of it all. And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?

Want to see the music we saw at SXSW? Head to our SXSW Hub.

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.