If Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme was any indication, the days of the comedy tent playing second fiddle at music festivals might soon be over.
Festival Supreme was pretty fucking awesome.
More than 9,000 comedy fans took over the famous Santa Monica Pier Saturday for the first ever Festival Supreme Music and Comedy Festival, which was curated by Tenacious D’s Jack Black and Kyle Gass. The stated lineup was already a who’s who of comedy giants – Adam Sandler, Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, Fred Armisen, etc. – but it was the surprise guests – Conan O’Brien, the Lonely Island, and Billy Idol, among others – that put the show over the top.
There were complaints about space, which is going to happen when you smush 9,000 people onto a partially fenced-off boardwalk (the public still had access to the pier’s carnival rides and food vendors). So yes, it sucked if you were victim to the Club Intimacy Tent’s one-in, one-out policy, but those kinds of things happen at every festival, no matter the size. Plus, if you couldn’t get in to see one show, there were two or three others happening simultaneously. And you had to be a real dillweed to complain because the weather was perfect, beer lines were short, and performances were outrageous. In all, the festival was a major success. I wished I could have seen every performance, but scheduling conflicts and the laws of physics prevented that. I’m sure you’ll be able to find coverage of the shows I missed elsewhere on the internet.
On to the highlights (in chronological order):
At 4:30 the line to get into curmudgeon anti-comedian Neil Hamburger’s One Man Tent was 100 people-long. Yes, Hamburger performed in a teepee-sized tent telling jokes to one audience member at a time for 30-second intervals. As the One Man Tent wrapped up later in the evening, I saw Eric Wareheim enter. To be a fly on that wall.
The Club Intimacy Tent was home to the festival’s less musically-inclined comics, like Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, Tig Notaro, and Hannibal Buress. However, one of the most memorable sets in Club Intimacy belonged to UK beatbox prodigy Beardyman. He brought the house down with his uncanny ability to mimic house, techno, dubstep, and other beats using only his mouth and a microphone, and drew both Simpsons creator Matt Groening and Jack Black himself out from backstage to watch him perform. Speaking of which, Black was an ever-present host and could be spotted throughout the festival hanging and taking pictures with fans.
I promise to mention the other tents at some point, but Club Intimacy was where it was at in terms of energy, probably because it only held about 600-700 people. Patton Oswalt had the crowd roaring with inspired riffs on his weight and overactive sweat glands. “My fitness goals for the rest of the year - I have two of them,” began one of his jokes. “One, I would like to no longer look like I’m always wearing a bulletproof vest. And number two, when my daughter graduates high school, I would like to not be sitting in a rascal scooter.” Following Oswalt was joke writer extraordinaire Demetri Martin, who also killed with exquisite one-liners like, “When I was in high school I experimented sexually. The experiment was to never have sex with anybody no matter how hard I tried.”
Made it out of Club Intimacy to catch The Mighty Boosh in the Mighty Tent and the Gregory Brothers on the Omega Stage Supreme. Unfortunately, the sound was poor for the Mighty Boosh, so it was hard to catch all their absurdist British humor. However, I did make out Old Gregg, who was drinking a bottle of “fuck juice”: Bailey’s Irish Cream and “the knee sweat of Bootsy Collins.” The Gregory Brothers were sharp doing their act making songs out of things that aren’t supposed to be song material, like the Antoine Dodson and Double Rainbow viral videos. Black came out for the Double Rainbow song finale, which was great.
Next up was Zach Galifianakis performing a straight standup set (no piano) in front of what seemed like everyone. Galifianakis’s set was short, only 10 minutes, but his story about meeting Chris Rock and getting caught making a joke that involved the n-word was pretty damn funny.
Then came Triumph the Insult Comic at 7:30 on the Omega Stage Supreme. Triumph (Robert Smigel) began with some of his trademark jokes, roasting the audience, Tenancious D, and Zach Galifianakis. “Zach Galifianakis, I kid Zach, but let’s be honest, not the best looking man. Zach had sex with a poodle once, and she was arrested for beastiality.” For the remainder of his set, however, he performed songs from his 2003 album Come Poop With Me, including the track “Cats are Cunts.” Surprise Guest Conan O’Brien joined him for that one, and I now count watching Conan O’Brien say “cats are cunts” on stage as one of life’s surreal moments.
Okay, back to Club Intimacy to see what Will Forte had in store. I wasn’t quite sure since he’s not a standup. He didn’t disappoint. Especially if you’re into seeing him tell a long monologue about how he and Jason Sudeikis used to fuck each other at SNL followed by Sudeikis making a surprise appearance to sing a duet of James Ingram’s “Baby Come to Me.”
Perhaps the festival’s biggest name, Adam Sandler, came out on the Omega Stage Supreme with a full band to sing some songs from his classic albums, including “7 Foot Man,” “Piece of Shit Car,” and “Medium Pace.” Who knows the last time Sandler performed these songs live, but aside from having to read lyrics off a piece of paper, he was pretty good. He didn’t seem nervous at all.
The festival’s curators and headliners, Tenacious D, left nothing on the table with a raucous performance that included their giant robot, the Metal, and an oversized alien. They encored with their megahit love ballad, “Fuck Her Gently.” Tenacious D’s set also included a mini-set by surprise guests, The Lonely Island. It was pretty cool to watch Tenacious D join Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone to collaborate on “Lazy Sunday.”
Like I said, there was so much happening and so much I missed – The Mr. Show Experience, Fred Armisen, the “On Creating Reality” Andy Kaufman exhibit featuring actual letters from women Kaufman challenged to wrestle him. The list goes on. Here’s hoping they do it again next year.