Smells Like Teen Spirit
Upright Citizen’s Brigade has the hipster comedy scene cornered in a way that could make Wes Anderson weep. The lines to get into their shows look like Urban Outfitters threw up on them, past performers have included the likes of Sarah Silverman and Janeane Garofalo, and one of the founders is uber-hip comedienne Amy Poehler. Their dominance of alt-funny Los Angeles is pretty much undisputed.
So, it seemed a little odd for them to put up a show called “420 Funny: A Very Pot Friendly Variety Show” during “drug month,” which seems like a ploy that a theater less widely beloved by the mustached masses might need to create to convince young audiences that they’re cool. Nevertheless, I was optimistic that if anyone could pull off stoner comedy, it would be them.
I was wrong. Turns out that no one, not even underground comedy royalty like UCB, should do a show about how funny shit is when you’re stoned, because it’s not original, it’s not creative, and most of all, it’s not funny.
"420 Funny" began with host Matt Besser--who could probably make me laugh in his sleep--doing some commentary about how everyone in the audience was high. Personally, I thought a funnier intro would have highlighted the fact that aside from him, me, and about three other people, the audience had a median age of about 17, but whatever, I'm not a comedian.
After Matt was a sketch about pot that makes its smokers travel through time. One of the actors couldn't seem to decide whether he was a surfer or a gangsta--not that it mattered, because obviously either way he'd be a stoner. He and his buddy figured out that they were traveling through time when the pizza they ordered (cause they were stoned...and stoned people love pizza...cause they have the munchies...get it?) had disintegrated from inside its box.
Two actors in another sketch spoofed a teen performance group that encouraged kids not to do drugs. Sort of funny, with a nice touch where they pounded fists and pointed up in a "thanks big guy" move. But still, a pretty obvious shot to take.
Following the "positive teens" was a stand-up comic who had inexplicably written his set on his wrist, and got big laughs for lines like, "I'd like to invent a cookie for stoned people, called Chips Ah-hahahaha."
It was that kind of joke that pretty much summed up the level of effort that seemed to have gone into the whole show. The concept of doing comedy about being stoned seems inherently lazy to begin with, but if for some reason it must be done, the actors have to work extra hard to make it original.
Instead, the actors in "420 Funny" relied on Spicoli references, munchies jokes, and repeated use of the word "bro"--humor that definitely appealed to the teenagers around me who were young enough to still think they were cool for smoking pot, but when performed by the adult actors onstage, was just kind of awkward.
Photo by Jessica for LAist