Live: Brian Posehn at Culture Room, December 8

Brian Posehn
With Matt Z., Daniel Reskin, and Masticator
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale

Better Than:
A night at your local open mic.

If toiling away as an independent band on the mid-size club circuit seems thankless, just think -- there are other forms of entertainment that are even more so. Independent wrestling comes to mind, and so does stand-up comedy. With comedy, even multiple TV show appearances, healthily selling albums, and famous friends won't guarantee you an audience on a weeknight -- especially in South Florida.

So things looked kind of bleak at first last night at Culture Room where Brian Posehn was set to headline, on a bill with two other local comedians and one death metal band. (This last part wasn't weird for fans of Posehn, who devotes at least a little of every set to jokes about his love for metal.) At 8 p.m., the show's alleged set time, only around 30 fans gathered, nearly every single one of them appearing to have been drawn in by those metal jokes. For about an hour there was no entertainment except for a Dio DVD and everybody's smart phones.

No doubt, Posehn might need a better PR and promotions team. Advertising for the show was pretty much nonexistent beyond Culture Room's usual club stuff. We only happened to come across it when we checked the venue's web site the other day.

Luckily, though, at least more than 30 people figured it out, and by the time the first entertainer went on a little after 9 p.m., there was a crowd of maybe about 150. The event was hosted by Miami comic Daniel Reskin, brother-of-Sweat-Records'-Lolo and leader of his own open mic series, Casa de Ha-Ha.

The first set, though, went to another local comic, Matt Z., who proved the sleeper hit of the evening. With a super-metal look of a long mane and bushy beard, he benefited from an audience who immediately accepted him as one of their own. But his own long riffs on self-loathing were often hilarious and pitiful at the same time -- a pungent comic combination. We learned that he lives with his grandmother, smokes too much weed, and harbors body issues and a possible addiction to Internet porn. "I'm bever going to have to meet the shitty people who made the computer," he explained at one point for that last bit.

Reskin's own set was more light-hearted and less about inner turmoil, but really warmed up towards the end when he touched on gentrification and the perils of waiting tables on South Beach. A joke about a drug dealer offering him organic vegan crack on the outer edges of Little Haiti, for one, stood out.

Posehn himself took the stage at about 9:30, looking about as paunchy-burly as he does on TV, rocking a T-shirt for VH1's That Metal Show under an open plaid shirt. By way of introduction he seemed to offer almost an apology, explaining he was in a transitional period between his last album and the next one, so his jokes would be a mix of both old and new material.

Most of it was new, but most of it based on the same themes of inadequacy and lazy stonerdom as before. Only the big difference, he explained early on, was that he no longer smokes weed. When the audience booed him he responded, "I know, I boo myself every morning."

Fans who remember his earlier jokes mocking comedians who have children and suddenly change their tune would also have been surprised. Earlier material invited audiences to, if Posehn were to wax emotional about his baby onstage, to "punch his baby." We're not supposed to do that anymore, he stressed -- and then launched into a bunch of jokes related to his kid. They weren't too sappy, though.

Two other set highlights included a long rant about performing at the Gathering of the Juggalos (Guess who isn't a juggalo fan, unsurprisingly?), and a long bit about Dimebag Darrell, just in time for the anniversary yesterday of his murder. The long, drawn-out fantasy scenario involved Dimebag's murderer getting thrown into jail with a muscle-bound Pantera fan, who would stab the murderer in the neck and fuck his "neck vagina" for fun. The crowd, of course, ate it up.

Not all of the material was so coarse, though, but the rest did focus on his usual subjects -- nerddom (particularly of the Star Wars-loving variety), laziness, and general physical inadequacy. Oh, and metal, of course. And just to make sure everyone understood that everyone in the room loved metal, after Posehn went on local act Masticator performed. If you had to pick a death-metal band from central casting, they would be it.

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: I've listened to Brian Posehn's albums so many times, I can recite some of the jokes -- which kind of spoiled a few of them for me last night, but oh well.

The crowd: Pretty much 100 percent metal people. There must have been a black-band-T-shirt check at the door.

Random detail: There was no merch for sale. None! No albums or posters or anything.

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Arielle Castillo
Contact: Arielle Castillo