A passel of some of the East Coast’s best comics took the stage at The Pearl Sunday night under the rubric of the Anti-Social Network and, aside from a touching anecdote from Jim Breuer about hosing down his father’s balls, it was a promise delivered.
Host Jim Norton set the tone with his confessional, yet unapologetic tales of depravity. He opened by throwing down the gauntlet: “I’m not a fake pervert,” he said. As if anyone who’d seen Monster Rain had any doubt. His rundown of the trio of great sex scandals of the day — Anthony Weiner, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Arnold Schwarzenegger — concluded, “I guess Arnold wanted to fuck the bassist from Van Halen.” Michael Anthony should be flattered.
Bill Burr followed, turning in the strongest set on a very crowded stage with a propulsive 20 minutes that saw him capture the first standing ovation of the evening. Breuer’s physical comedy, mugging, voices and, of course, Goat Boy, seemed out of place with the other three comics and their blend of self-loathing and open, naked loathing of others.
For some reason, people can’t wait to scream at comics that it’s their birthday. Norton, coming out in-between Breuer and Attell, had the situation well in hand, turning the audience on one particular attention-seeker. Professional piece of work (“professional,” in this case, including the phrase “show your tits”)? Of course. Too late, though. There was blood in the water.
Before he even got all the way on stage, Attell says that the heckler who wouldn’t drop her top must be Mormon, and she should “Go back to Utah you Mitt Romney-loving whore.” Well, that’ll shut ’em up.
Surprisingly, he did a fair amount of Vegas-centric material, where he talked about his time hosting the AVN Awards in January. Though he wasn’t sold on the Gold Coast, across the street. “What is that casino called? The No Hope? It’s like Auschwitz with slot machines.”
Watching Attell on stage was like watching jazz happen. If jazz had more dick jokes. He was loose, and in the moment. It was a fascinating master class, where he would riff on nothing, let lines die, laugh at the misstep and move on to crushing bits with dismissive nonchalance. Everyone loves to talk about how much they don’t give a fuck. Attell lives it on stage.
He’s also one of only two comics who can dip into the vaults for an old fan favorite about anal beads as a closer. The other is Norton, and you could tell Attell respected the sheer nadir of depravity that the other comic represented. “I think Jim would jerk off to me jerking off to something.”