The third annual Oddball Comedy Festival arrived to PNC Banks Art Center in Holmdel, NJ on Saturday, Sept. 5. The lineup varies depending on the dates, with this show featuring Aziz Ansari, Amy Schumer, Anthony Jeselnik, Jay Pharaoh, Jim Norton, Michael Che, Nick Kroll and Todd Barry.
The “Roast Master” Jeff Ross hosted, beginning the show with his standup and then spending time warming up the crowd by using a “roast cam.” Ross’ strength is definitely roasting people, but he had a few funny moments in his standup. However, when he grabbed a guitar and broke out in a song entitled “Have a Blessed F***ing Day,” he only summoned sympathy laughs from the audience.
Ansari’s fans would have been pleased with his set, as he stuck with his signature, relatable comedic style that includes discussing relationships and social media. He delved into the “little things” that are annoying him two years into his relationship, and how his love of bacon offends his religious parents. After his set, you have to say that Ansari’s girlfriend must have okayed him to discuss the intimate aspects of their relationship…or else she is breaking up with him.
Schumer, who along with Ansari garnered the most applause as she took the stage, discussed a range of topics, from Hollywood and her recent rise to fame to her no-holds-barred sex talk. She shared the story of her prank on Katie Couric, which she had also told Jimmy Fallon on his show, along with the pitfalls of hooking up with a longtime friend. However, she probably should not have asked the female audience members to raise their hands if they have experienced vaginal discharge — that is a way to silence a room.
Jeselnik showcased his dry wit, and did not hold back from discussing Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions and Caitlyn Jenner. He, along with Jim Norton, felt that they should be able to joke about Jenner’s transition, which the media has shied away from joking about. Norton also shared his experience using Tinder in New York City, joking that he called Tinder to find out why the age limit would not move further to the left (past 18).
Pharaoh’s hilarious set covered a variety of topics including dating, representing your city and traveling to Europe instead of Africa. Pharoah’s impressions aided his rise to fame on “Saturday Night Live,” so the audience definitely would have been disappointed if he did not do a few impressions during his set. He did a spot-on impression of a scared Kevin Hart and meeting Eddie Murphy for the first time.
Che’s set may not be considered universally funny, depending on the type of comedy you prefer. The SNL “Weekend Update” anchor took a much-needed break from his suit and tie, wearing a backwards baseball cap, a t-shirt and jeans. He discussed social issues like racism, homosexuality and the NYC homeless population, while choosing to address the recent controversy he has encountered as a result of discussing these subjects.
Kroll had a few funny moments, but spent too long talking about how he pooped his pants recently and doing impressions of how people in different countries describe animals. Todd Barry, the first comedian, poked fun at himself for being the first performer — the “superstar spot.”
The three-and-a-half hour show was a great way to spend a nice summer night outside on Labor Day Weekend, laughing until my jaw hurt.