Todd Barry: The Crowd Work Tour (2014)

Todd Barry: The Crowd Work Tour (2014)

directed by Lance Bangs

todd-barry-2014My knowledge of stand-up comedians is very limited, so I rely on a big group of friends to turn me on to what’s good (fine, it’s only two guys, but they know their shit). It was through them that I got into Louis C.K. and started to see funny men in action at comedy shows. In fact, the first time I saw Todd Barry was at the Comedy Cellar in Manhattan, where he was performing with a bunch of other people including Dave Attell and Gary Gulman. Barry’s deadpan delivery was right up my alley, and I’ve been wanting to see him again ever since.

Barry’s The Crowd Work Tour will have to do for now. Recorded in seven American cities in 2013, the genius behind it is the fact that he goes on stage cold, no script planned, trying to find the jokes as he talks to the audience. Of course, most stand-up comics do this at some point or another during their performances. But Barry devotes the entire performance to interacting with his fans, something that’s at once audacious and pretty special. As he makes fun of an instrumental rock band called Avant Abstract or tries to control a drunk woman who can’t stop talking about organic eggs, watching Barry engage the crowd is a hoot.

Comedy is hard, but flying without a net like this is even harder. Barry makes it seem like a damn good time.

Rating: ***

Carlos I. Cuevas