"My Day at the Oddball Fest (Tinley Park, IL - 8/31/14)”

I went to the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival in Tinley Park on August 31st in Tinley Park, IL. Tinley Park is the actual city, but it’s their “Chicago stop” of the tour. The city just doesn’t have many solid outdoor venue options. Last year I really wanted to go to the tour. It was Dave Chappelle and the Flight of the Conchords with a slew of awesome people. This year the line-up was announced and it was stellar. Louis CK, Aziz, Sarah Silverman, Marc Maron, Bill Burr, Chris Hardwick, Amy Schumer, and tons of awesome people. Then I read that the line-up changes from show to show. Bummer. Of course the show I go to doesn’t have Louis, Aziz or Maron. The line-up is still outstanding and I went into the show excited to see the advertised.

It was a beautiful day, which is scarce the past few weeks in the Chicagoland. I knew there was a second stage that started when doors opened at 5and then the main stage at 7. Going into the show the person I was with and I debated if the comedians would say “Chicago” or “Tinley Park”. She claimed 7 and I wasn’t sure between 8 and 5. Her 7 seemed like a solid pick. We didn’t catch much of the second stage. Brody Stevens was hosting and was cranking out the energy and doing a great job of creating the tone for the show. With it being a big venue, outside and with a stacked line up it was not a normal situation. The crowd was a bit different thanks to the variety of performers. I didn’t see any fights, any problems and the atmosphere was pretty damn chill and peaceful. We made it to our seats and Brody came out again to host that stage too. He used the same jokes on both stages, but that in itself was amusing. I’m a big fan of his podcasts whenever he puts them out so it was a pleasure to see him do his thing. He has an amazing cadence to his voice and once you’ve experienced him outside of his hosting stuff he is a really endearing personality.

The main line-up was great. Ari Shaffir rocked it. It was his first date on the tour and after hearing his on Death Squad for so long it was great to see him on the same stage as the rest of the heavy hitters. He did ten minutes about taking a shit in China. Michael Che came out with a big ass cup of beer and had a hilarious set. I can’t wait to see him on The Daily Show because he’s got a cool presence to him. Chris Hardwick did a lot of crowd work and was solid. Hannibal Buress was great in his homecoming of sorts. He was funny and I know I laughed at his stuff, but all I remember is at one point fire eaters, a man on stilts and a few random circus/freak show performers all came out and got crazy as Hannibal rapped. It was a mind fuck. At that point they went to intermission and DJ Trauma had a few minutes to showcase his DJ skills. He did a variety and got the crowd fairly pumped considering the age and intoxication of a good portion of the crowd.

Brody Stevens brought us back with a set by Chris D’Elia. I’m a fan of him in general but I don’t think I’ve seen him do stand up for this long before. He was great. He did a lot of relationship and sex stuff but it was from a pretty straight forward and funny point of view. There have been jokes about sex and men and women for years but he brings his own thing to it and it’s pretty damn funny. I’d be lying if I said his material didn’t make me a tad uncomfortable or at least “thrown off”. Surprisingly Sarah Silverman was next. I thought she’d have been at the end of the line-up. She did crowd work and was great. I don’t want to get into anyone’s bits and spoil the fun but she asked a God-fearing man one of the craziest and best questions I’ve ever heard. Jim Jefferies told stories about fatherhood and traveling back home to Australia after being in America too long.

Amy Schumer was next and did well. She’s funny but I felt distracted or kind of worn out by this point. She was entertaining and I’m generally a fan of hers so I don’t think it was her. The headliner was Bill Burr. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve just never really connected with his stuff. I like him and he’s amusing in the form of interviews, podcasts and just as a dude in general. I just never got too into his stand-up stuff though. I can see why he’s appreciated and loved, but it just never hit the mark with me. He was a presence for sure but we didn’t make it this far. We decided to politely beat the traffic. I will see Bill Burr on a different night and give him the time he deserves.

This show was bam-bam-bam with talent. It was a lot to take in and maybe 5 or so hours of stand-up comedy is too much to process. It could also have been the variety coming at us. I wonder what the tone would have been like if it were like only five comedians doing 30 minutes instead of seven or eight doing 10 to20. Regardless a great time was had.

How do you review a comedy show without being a pretentious dick? It’s all subjective. But then again so are movies, music and any other form of artistic expression. A fair critique is always merited regardless if the artist agrees or not. An opinion is an opinion. We all like different things, have different life experiences to base things off of and have different levels of wit, sarcasm and creative scope. Everyone is different. I’m a fan of stand-up comedy and have been since a child. I have a few stand-up heroes autographed pictures in my office, I’ve been to shows, I listen to the podcasts, I not only watch but I seek out the specials, I’ve filmed local Chicagoland shows, I’ve even directed a local stand-up comedy special for one of my best friends. I’m not a casual supporter.

This experience did not change that. I had a great time. The show was stacked, the lineup was well-paced and the big venue environment was really cool. I’m surprised this idea hasn’t been done before. Imagine the Oddball lineups that could have happened over the years. Better late than never. Looking forward I can’t see a reason why I wouldn’t want to go to a future Oddball tour if the lineups stay on par with the first two years. If you have a chance to catch this tour you should definitely go. Some of the dates do have different lineups but I can’t imagine it not being a great time on each stop. Music sucks these days. The summer movies are all kind of lame. This might be the tour of the summer. In general, just go support live comedy.

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