Some jokes slip on banana peels, or they are hit in the face with a custard pie -- they make you laugh at them. Other jokes laugh at you -- they burrow their way into your psyche and make you sweat. Both types of jokes were the featured fare at Garvin's last night (and tonight) as two New York comedians skewered themselves and their audience.
Rob Barlett opened the show with a series of howling inanities which included imitations of dogs at cocktail parties, drooling nightclub entertainers, Frank Purdue as a chicken, and an impression of Luciano Pavarotti singing "Fame." Using a variety of props (an ear that doubled as an American Express Card for Vincent van Gogh was the best), Bartlett had the crowd roaring along with him. His routine was pure slap-shtick.
Chris Rush provided a few slaps of his own, most of them applied to the flabby jowls of modern culture. President Reagan, the draft, the draft, vegetarians, feminists and scientists were among the sacred cows which he led to the comedic slaughterhouse. Spitting out his jokes in rapid-fire fashion, Rush mixed irony and ridicule in a performance that produced cringes of disgust and delight.
A slap in the face or to the funny bone -- both were hilarious and welcome respites from the beatings that the real world usually offers. Thanks, we needed that.