A mustachioed Michael Ian Black dropped by Chicago’s Thalia Hall on Friday, Feb. 17, for a night of stand-up comedy that was nothing short of hilarious. His stop in the midwest marked only the third city visited on the comedian’s “Shut Up and Comedy Tour” — a title inspired by a Twitter comment — and, as a result, fans were graced with a free-flowing set of comedy, equal parts funny and fresh.
Speaking of “fresh,” Black, an expert in the field of fast food fodder, brought down the house with a hysterical long-form story of an experience he’d recently had at Subway. The bit, which Black explained early on was really about “trust,” had the crowd rolling as the comedian expertly and ever-so-patiently disclosed the details of his encounter with the fast food chain’s “sandwich artist.”
The story’s slow build, coupled with Black’s use of comic suspense, proved to be a hit with the masses, at one point even prompting a slew of audience guesses as to how the ridiculous tale would come to an end.
“Don’t make me bring out Sarah again to do a guided meditation,” threatened Black in an attempt to calm his unruly fans. The reference was to opener Sarah Sherman who, earlier in the night, led a one-of-a-kind soothing meditation session sandwiched between quirky absurdist impressions and jokes about President Donald Trump’s previously-leaked “p*ssy-grabbing” comment.
Naturally, Trump was on-topic a few times over the course of the night as Black — outspoken critic of the businessman-turned-politician and author of A Child’s First Book of Trump — shared his list of preferred candidates, which included Hillary, Bernie, a jar of mayonnaise and a flesh-eating raven, among others.
One of the funniest moments of Black’s Friday night performance came during his examination of the National Anthem. The bit peaked with his suggestion that “The Star-Spangled Banner” be reserved for only the most “truly American moments.” Other highlights included a handful of pantomimes or “pantomemes” (as he liked to call them) and another long-form story of Black’s encounter with the law while filming the second season of The Jim Gaffigan Show.
Black recently brought his “Shut Up and Comedy Tour” to Arlington VA, New York City and now Chicago. He is expected to take the stage for a pair of shows at The Firebird in St. Louis on Feb. 18 and Baltimore’s Ottobar on Feb. 24. For more information and to pick up tickets visit him on Facebook and be sure to catch him reviving his role as Peepers on the forthcoming Season 3 of Another Period.
(Photos by Laurie Fanelli)