Last night I went with a friend of mine to see comedian, podcaster, and actor John Hodgman at the Ready Room in St.Louis.
I didn't know what to expect from Hodgman's standup show. I knew, prior to the show, who he is. He's been a correspondent on "The Daily Show" for years. He appears on a television show I enjoy quite a bit on FXX called "Married". He has his own podcast, "Judge John Hodgman" and he appears on many other podcasts as a guest. And yes, almost everyone knows him as the PC in the old Apple Computers commercials. But, he just started his own standup tour, and like I said before, I didn't know what to expect. Everything he's done before has been a mishmash of comedy, drama and total absurdity. He was straight forward as the PC. He's a married guy that's sex crazed on "Married". On his podcast, he simply judges things. People give him two topics and he picks a winner, simple as that. When he's a guest on other podcasts, he's usually a glorified version of himself. On "The Daily Show", he's a smart ass street reporter.
That's what I expected going into last night, "The Daily Show" version of John Hodgman. And, he did deliver on that version, but his show was so much more. I was very pleasantly surprised at all the stories within the two main stories he told. He seemed to be more a humorist than a standup. That made me happy. Yes, he was his character from "The Daily Show" except more vulnerable. He told the audience that every story was 100 percent true, and we all believed him. It was different from other standup shows I go to in it's structure. The majority of standup comics tell stories or they have jokes that come at you nonstop. The only time most comedians stop is to let the laughter stop and then bam, they hit you with another joke. That's what I'm used to. Well, last night, John Hodgman was on stage for almost 90 minutes and he told two total stories. I'd never seen anything like this before. What made it so enjoyable to me was the fact that I was never bored. You'd think that if you only heard two full stories in 90 minutes you'd get bored, but that wasn't the case last night. And yes, he'd tell little mini jokes in the stories. He's a comic, comics tell jokes. But, he's not your typical standup. Like I said before, he's a humorist, as pretentious as that may sound.
His first story was about his summer home in Massachusetts. He regaled us with stories about taking trash to a dump and having to make up stories due to his own insecurities. We learned that he has two children that are at the age where their parents are too old to hang out with. He and comedic musician John Coulton are long time friends. He told us how the both of them got super high, went swimming in a river and made cairns. The best part of this story was that college students slowly drove past them, turned a corner and came back to where they were, Hodgman extremely frightened at this point, and were shocked that the two of them were hanging out in their small town. The college students were huge fans of both of them. There were many other stories and bits attached to this first story, and they were all great.
The second story was about his other summer home in Maine. It was at this point where I heard one of the funniest things in standup that I've ever heard. After telling us that he had a second summer home, he said "welcome to a night of white privilege comedy"! That was hilarious! He knew that it wasn't relatable, but he managed to find a way to make it absolutely hilarious. We got stories during his second part of his show about how sad and gloomy Maine is. He told us about a tourist shop that has all the trappings of your typical tourist shop. You couldn't use the restroom there, there was aisle after aisle of crappy toys and souvenirs and, of course, they sold fudge. I was happy to hear that he doesn't care for fudge because, "it's disgusting and looks like shit". His exact words and I couldn't agree more. I hate fudge. My favorite part of this part of the show was him talking about buying a boat. Another unrelatable story that he made very funny. He told us all about the maker of the boat and how he was a famous guy in the town they have their summer home in. Apparently this guy was a huge asshole and he only made 107 of these "peapod" boats. He told his wife that, just to have fun, they'd bid on the opening bid. The boat was being sold at auction. He asked around and the townspeople told him that the last boat sold for over 10,000 dollars. So, he figured opening bid was enough and someone would eventually outbid them. Well, the opening bid came in at 3,500 dollars and his wife raised the placard. But, no one else was bidding, much to Hodgman's dismay. Finally someone pushed the bid to 3,600 dollars and he thought they were in the clear. Not the case. Hodgman's wife was caught up in the auction and bid 3,700 dollars. After seven minutes of no one bidding, the boat was sold to them. So, now he owns a boat. The story he told of the townspeople congratulating him and his wife for how cheap they got the boat was very funny.
Just when we thought the show was over, Hodgman pulled out a ukulele and played two folk songs. Nothing humorous about the songs, just two sweet, very nice folk songs. And, my goodness does he have a very good singing voice. I was shocked and loved every second of how he ended his show. It was completely off the wall and super, super cool. Go out and see John Hodgman's Vacationland if he's coming anywhere close to you. It's not your typical standup show, but you will enjoy yourself.
I know I did.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the co host of the X Millennial Man podcast. It is funny how many comedy shows Ty attends. Follow him on twitter @tykulik.