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Comedy review: Jeff Garlin’s Combo Platter

As I walked up to the Geffen Playhouse, I thought, “Wow, this place looks like a church.” I hadn’t expected the building’s historic arches and vine-covered walls. I was attending my first comedy show, and from my past experiences of watching Comedy Central, comedy isn’t very godly.

The show, which was part of the L.A. Film Festival, was held in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse, a spacious room with an intimate setting. It was simply decorated, with only about 100 seats that surrounded a wooden stool and two fold-out black chairs that the three performing comedians used. The sight of the wooden stool alone, which I feel is a trademark of stand-up comedy, made me anxious for the show to begin.

Because it was an all-ages show, I naively thought the material might be G-rated, but it was more along the lines of R. Comedian Jeff Garlin’s entrance gave me an instant understanding of the show’s “maturity” level. Upon entering the theater, Garlin had an unintentional coughing fit that was followed by his exclamation of the curse word for feces.

During his routine, Garlin discussed his role in the animated movie WALL-E, focusing on his red carpet experiences and the ridiculous questions that he is sometimes asked. Garlin told a story about a reporter who asked him if WALL-E and his love interest Eve consummated their relationship in the movie. Remember, this is a Disney movie!

After his spiel, Garlin introduced comedian Bob Odenkirk, who dropped a few f-bombs after entering the stage from the wrong door. Odenkirk discussed comedian George Carlin’s recent death, reminiscing over Carlin’s legacy and poking fun at himself, saying that he would never reach Carlin’s fame.

Comedian Patton Oswalt was next. Oswalt talked about his role as Remy, the main character in Ratatouille, claiming that it was far better than Garlin’s role in WALL-E.  Following Oswalt’s jokes, Garlin launched the “combo.”

“Combo” was the term Garlin used to describe the main feature of the show, the three comedians riffling on topics suggested by the audience. Several of the subjects discussed were beyond me, such as the apparently infamous films of Rudy Ray Moore, known best for the 1975 movie Dolemite. But what should I have expected with only five teenagers in the audience, none of whom had the guts to suggest a topic? The comedians did however include several subjects that I understood and some were even G-rated, but spiced up with profanity of course. The trio managed to include Walt Disney and f-bombs in the same sentence.

Except for a man in the third row whose laugh was so strange it flustered even the comedians, it was an excellent show. The intimate atmosphere made the show feel like a chat with buddies at a coffeehouse. I couldn’t have chosen a better first comedy show experience; it left me with a craving for more.