Richard Lewis at Tarrytown Music Hall

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I’ve been a long-time fan of Richard Lewis. In addition to loving his standup act, both Lois and I were fans of Anything But Love for its entire run. Last night was the first time that either of us has seen him perform live.

He had an unannounced opening act (which I’ll cover later). Richard came out at 8:56pm.

Before leaving our house, I tweeted the following:

Heading to see Richard Lewis. Really hoping he doesn’t do too much political humor. I’ll catch enough of that on the tape of the debate…

For the most part, that worked out. Richard was totally himself, and hysterical, from the moment he came on stage. His schtick last night was a cross between Woody Allen (self deprecation, leaning towards self loathing) and Buddy Hackett (jokes about what happens to your body as you get older).

At times he rambled incoherently, seemlingly losing the thread of his story. Somehow, he always found a way to tie the meandering back to the original point, and seemed to bring the audience along with him, earning the full laugh when it seemed he’d lose it.

Amazingly, he’s 61 years old. He always seemed so youthful in everything he’d done over the years, that I didn’t realize he was older than me. Most of his stories (they weren’t jokes and they weren’t really routines either) centered around that fact, and around his now three-year-old marriage.

He’s extremely foul-mouthed, which wasn’t a surprise, but was a little nerve-wracking for me, since Lois can easily shut down completely in the presence of such humor. Even though he cursed constantly, and 70% of his stuff was about sex, drugs or alcohol, he seemed to be making Lois laugh a good deal, so I was able to relax and enjoy myself as well. I don’t mind foul language a bit, but I do think that comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, who seem to be able to avoid cursing for an entire show, are cleverer for it, on some levels.

Go back and reread my tweet from above, where I was truly hoping for no political humor. Unfortunately, my wish didn’t come to pass. I didn’t really expect it to, so I wasn’t shocked.

About 60% of the way through the show, he apologized for bringing up politics. He seemed to be suggesting in his apology that he wouldn’t talk about it much, or with any particular slant or vitriol.

Unfortunately, as with most angry liberals (which is different than a normal liberal), he couldn’t help himself, and he got sucked deeper into it as he went along. Different than my utter distaste for this kind of stuff when it happens at a musical concert (where it’s 100% the artist’s ego to lecture an audience that came to hear music), in comedy, it’s somewhat expected, even if it’s biased or slanted entirely in one direction. After all, they are commentators on the state of society, no?

He took only one shot at Sarah Palin, and if you took it from a purely comedic point of view, it was reasonably clever and amusing. That’s how I chose to take it, because he didn’t harp on it, or get off track with it. He actually didn’t say much about McCain at all, possibly not even one line (but I wouldn’t swear to that).

He did what all angry liberals do, he went nuts over President Bush. You would think that there was a good chance that Bush would be the next President, that we need to live in the past. While directionally, I understand the hatred and vitriol completely, beyond two or three humorous bits, it devolved (as it always does) into a silly (angry) rant, that allowed Lewis to get his frustrations off his chest, but was hardly funny, interesting, or likely to sway anyone in the upcoming election.

Roughly half of the audience soaked up every single anti-Bush rant. The other half was silent throughout. Even after the show was over, I heard anti-Bush / pro-Obama people make the same observation to each other. Lewis likely noticed it wasn’t going over as well as his other stuff, but of course, he couldn’t pull up from the nose dive. It’s like therapy for angry liberals.

He only said a few things about Obama. Obviously, there’s no record to tout. Clearly, no jokes permitted, because you might turn a single voter against him. So, what else can you say? Essentially, that he’ll be a breath of fresh air after Bush, purely because he’s smart. Won’t it be nice to have a smart person in the White House? Yup, it would be. Now if that person also could accomplish anything that wouldn’t flush us further down the drain, that would be great too…

Finally, he was spent on that subject (perhaps 10 minutes, which wasn’t that great a percentage of the time he was on stage, but was a very long stretch of practically zero laughs). He returned to normal funny stories, and won back the crowd, including us. We laughed a good bit at the end of show. I am grateful he didn’t end with the political stuff, which might have left a sour taste in my mouth. Instead, I just felt sorry for him. His life has been incredible (from the outside), in terms of money, fame, women, etc. On the inside, he’s been a long-time drunk, a sex addict, in therapy, and basically miserable and compensating for much of his life.

If he can blame Bush for all of his failings, perhaps he can find some comfort in that. More power to him.

He left the stage at 10:01, exactly 65 minutes. It was a nice length, and mostly funny. I enjoyed the show.

The show was called for 8pm. Tarrytown Music Hall doesn’t seem to ever start on time. The house lights don’t dim by starting time, and people hang around on the sidewalk outside, catching up with friends, past the starting time. It’s not a great way to run a place, even though we like the place acoustically and it’s wildly convenient to our house.

At around 8:10pm, they introduced the unannounced opening act, a comedian named Melvin George. Melvin didn’t curse once the entire show. The crowd loved him from the minute he opened his mouth, until the very last bit. His theme is that he’s not cool (hence his site’s name: notcool1.com).

While he achieved a few genuine belly laughs, he was able to keep the audience constantly chuckling. He delivers insightful commentary, couched in self deprecation (remember, he’s not cool), in an upbeat style, with great pacing. He’s also a good dancer (you’ll have to see the routine to get that one).

His closing routine, which involved pitching the audience on buying a CD of the performance they just watched (last night’s show is already available at this link), was hysterical. Aside from being a great idea (selling the CD), he was able to keep us laughing for five solid minutes, while focusing on a way to make some additional money from that very show. Well done Melvin! He was on stage for roughly 35 minutes.

When the show was over, we walked one block back to our car (we were lucky to find a great parking spot). I reached into my pocket, and my car key was missing (I had the house keys). I have a pair of shorts that have very shallow pockets, and on occasion, when I sit in a deep chair (like in a hotel), my car key slips out. I always find it quickly. It’s never fallen out of a real pants pocket before last night.

Given how close we were to home, it wouldn’t have been a disaster if we couldn’t have found the key, but it certainly wouldn’t have been a pleasant way to end the evening. We walked back to the theater and went straight to our seats. Thankfully, the key was obviously sitting on the floor, right under my seat. By the time we reached the front door of the theater, they were locking it down, so if we had parked a bit further, we might not have gotten back in.

When we got home, we watched the entire debate on the DVR, knowing we wouldn’t bother this morning, once we’d heard the pundits’ spin. Both candidates spouted their respective talking points the entire night. Nothing really learned, and neither really faltered. Onward…