Los Angeles as a city feels like a cornucopia of delight, it seems every crevice contains new art or flavor waiting to be enjoyed. Tenacious D has submitted its own fruit to this bounty known as Festival Supreme, a celebration of the offbeat nature of comedy and Los Angeles as a whole. I attended this festival last Saturday to witness the mad energy firsthand. I’ll break it down by genres, traditional comedy, musical acts, and everything in between.
Stand-up is such an interesting medium for entertainment, it’s just one person...talking to an audience. Politics was an obvious topic of conversation for Forte and Heidecker, it's sort of a big deal nowadays. Heidecker, famous as the “Tim” half of the Tim and Eric Show, made sure to put in his own absurdist spin on the election, likening it to an oncoming apocalypse, although depending on your political affiliation it may not have been all that absurd.
The headlining stand-up, Patton Oswalt, performed a very sincere closing set that may not have been the funniest but was definitely the most endearing. Oswalt recently started performing again after the tragic passing of his wife last April. Oswalt’s set depicted a man who uses his craft to cope with the demons of his life. Oswalt’s set showed the beauty of stand-up, a vessel for not only comedy but for human understanding as well. To me, Patton Oswalt’s set transferred him into another echelon of comedians who focus on sharing their own human experiences to connect with the audience.
The sounds at Festival Supreme were sublime. Each musical act brought something unique to the table. L.A. darling Mac Demarco performed his classic smattering of tunes, this time with each band member dressed as Will Forte’s “Macgruber.” As always, Mac Demarco looked relaxed and cracked a few jokes. Fred Armisen came out with Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph dressed as a Talking Heads parody band, Test Pattern. Playing tracks off their latest album Final Transmission, the parody band was silly and quite enjoyable.
But the true highlight amongst it all was “Weird Al” Yankovic, what a performer. My entire life I had of course known of Weird Al. I can confidently say his performance was one of the best I had seen in recent memory and boy did he work for it. Yankovic recreated every one of his music videos on stage; dressing up as Fat Michael Jackson for "Eat It," depicting an Amish settlement for Amish Paradise, and even riding a segway on stage for "White and Nerdy," each performance filled with more energy than any other act that night. The beauty in Yankovic’s parody of music is that the only true knock against it is calling it a joke, which is the whole point. It’s music that forces the listener to abandon any pretentiousness and just enjoy themselves, personally, it reminded me of what it felt like to be a kid again.
Headliner Flight of The Conchords played a relaxed and downplayed set to finish off the night/ FOTC’s humor has always been in their subtlety and lack of over the top bravado. Some of the most endearing moments were watching them forget the lyrics to their older songs and having to start over. They fiddled on their guitars and softly spoke into our ears, they aren't rock stars yet they still had every member in the audience singing along to each song they played.
The Odd and In-Between
Aside from the more standard performances, there were a few moments at the festival that created comedy out of...disgust and shock. Many of these moments were during Eric Andre’s thirty-minute explosion of a performance. He opened by dumping a milk carton on his head before turning his eyes towards the audience with a water gun filled with ranch. Later on, two audience members competed to drink ranch dressing as quick as possible...simply ridiculous. Eric Andre’s cavalcade of grime and slime received uproars of applause, the people loved him. Andre tapped into a certain ethos within viewers, he appeased the creature inside of us that wants to see something gross and absurd without restraint. Finishing the show completely naked with his member tucked between his legs, singing with David Arquette, was oddly touching and beautiful. To gain a better visual guide to this description I highly recommend watching an episode from his show.
Other odd acts included Brett Gelman’s Gelmania, a live edition of his podcast. The performance felt more like an interrogation than a performance, there was quite a bit of screaming and voice modulation. Brett Gelman’s the kind of comedian you hate, his comedy lies on the terrible side of absurdity. Gelman enjoys torturing the audience with darkness (Andre tortures with food waste) he psychologically abuses the crowd until you can’t do anything but laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Finally, Michael Carbonaro had an odd little performance where he...actually, it’s best just to show it you here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=os2uw8uyc7s .
Looking back to the shows and events I’ve had the pleasure of attending, I can’t find one that I enjoyed quite as much as Festival Supreme. The blend of so many delightful forms of comedy and art was something truly unique that I don’t think exists in very many places. It may only be for one day but it was organized well and every performer brought something new and interesting to a city filled with new and interesting things. The only change I could recommend is to extend it another day.
RAMIRO MOSQUERA, CO-MUSIC DIRECTOR
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