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IC Comedy: Green Gravel festival wrap-up

BY CONOR MCBRIEN | MARCH 05, 2015 5:00 AM

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Green Gravel started off quite promising. Iowa City’s own improv groups, Paperback Rhino and Janice, performed an excellent show at Riverside Theater that had me giggling in the back row for most of the time. There were bits that had the audience scratching their heads, such as a parody of the podcast Serial that ran quite long. This was made up by the time-traveling antics of “Dave Chappelle” and various other situations that showed both groups’ improv ability is not far removed from mastery.

What followed was Seven Minutes in Purgatory at High Ground Cafe, a show that relies on a simple gimmick: the comic can’t see or hear the reaction of the audience as he or she performs from a separate room via a camera feed. The magic died for me when I spotted their Wizard of Oz routine was taking place directly behind the barristas at the counter. A curtain is less effective at hiding people than a door, as it turns out.

Then there was Too Many Cooks Live, an exercise in false advertising for people who take show titles too literally that was a glorified preview for the new season of “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell,” a live-action Adult Swim show with an interesting concept but little charisma. This was broken up by some Too Many Cooks related videos and live sketches starring the hosts and the killer himself, William Tokarsky. On my way out, I was honored to shake the hand of one host, Dave Willis; his work was instrumental in making me the weirdo I am today. 

Eddie Pepitone made an appearance at Too Many Cooks to scream about Slipknot for no particular reason, which made me question if I should check out his show or not. In all fairness, his reputation seemed to speak for him, so I’m a little bummed that I didn’t make it to Bloodbath the following evening.

Speaking of, Saturday was a slow one. The day kicked off with some non-comedy events such the Adult Swim panel at FilmScene and a live podcast recording by Pepitone at High Ground. The highlight of most people’s evenings was another edition of Little Village Comedy Hour. Here, I made a troubling discovery: comedy has gotten so raunchy that the “funny comics” have come back full-circle to puns. About four comics were all “pun dependent,” which is a serious medical condition that should be treated immediately if anyone reading this has it.

I’m not saying the show was pun-ishment or anything, but I was probably the only one in the crowd not cracking a smile. When those guys left, I was left feeling numb to comedy. Even the Skateboard Rabbi telling his side of the story was a little stale, only because it was yet another installment in the long-running “Wacky Situation ¼ While High On Drugs” that is only helped by the fact this whole incident played out on “The Price is Right” and is available for the entire Internet to see.

As I said, it started off quite promising.


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