The Bonnaroo comedy tent is an oasis in the desert (read: air-conditioned tent in the dusty, hippy-strewn festival wasteland). It might be a tad difﬁcult to get in, but the spoils will be well worth your time. Last year, a little hustle was rewarded by the chance to catch master David Cross corralling the unruly crowd before launching into a sidesplitting set. Imagine hundreds of drunk, overheated people on vacation from civilization—which apparently also means vacation from basic human etiquette—being asked to pay attention. And this year, there’ll be metalheads.
The “headliner” for this year’s comedy festivities is all-around-badass Janeane Garofalo. As a performer, she has managed to evolve over the last two decades—from stand-up comedian to ﬁlm actress (The Truth About Cats and Dogs: totally underrated) to political pundit—and even found time to guest star on the cult classic The Adventures of Pete and Pete. Her sardonic political persona has landed her on Air America, Real Time With Bill Maher and even Fox News. Garofalo is an unrelenting critic of female images in the media and makes a point of embracing labels that have somehow fallen out of favor, famously getting the word “liberal” tattooed on her shoulder. Oh, and she happens to be hilarious.
Also rolling into Manchester will be bearded “comedian of comedy” Zach Galiﬁanakis. Or if you’re really lucky, his “twin” brother Seth might ﬁll in. The two look eerily alike, except for the fact that Seth has switched out his brother’s trademark whiskers for a chunky moustache. Unlike his Los Angeles-based bro, Seth still lives in their childhood home of North Carolina, where he’s a high school football coach, youth minister and chili cook-off organizer. He loves The George Lopez Show, The Fugees (one of the few things he still has in common with his hotshot brother) and his dog Funions.
On Saturday, one very special metalhead will arrive in Middle Tennessee. Brian Posehn is a scene-stealer—to the uninitiated masses, he is probably best known as the disgruntled mailman on Just Shoot Me! or as Sarah Silverman’s Tab-loving gay bestie on The Sarah Silverman Program. This large, bald, bespectacled man enjoys rifﬁng on his love of metal, his übergeek status or his hot wife (and how she can fart in public because everyone will just assume it was him).
There are a bunch of other standout comics on the various bills. Everyman Mike Birbiglia, who performed at Zanies just last week, occasionally picks up the guitar—he has a hilarious bit about how if there’s Christian rock, each religion should have their own genre of maudlin rock music—which should make him a good ﬁt for the festival crowd.
Claiming to have an un-human 11-octave range, Reggie Watts also combines music and comedy. He spent years fronting bands in the Seattle music scene and now makes his home in Brooklyn.
Best Week Ever regular John Mulaney brings a savvy touch with pop culture—he argues that Donald Trump is the embodiment of what a homeless person would think a billionaire should be like: When I’m rich, I’ll build tall buildings and put my name on them, and I’ll have golden hair and I’ll have a show where I ﬁre people.
Satellite radio host and Tonight Show regular Jim Norton will no doubt provide an impressive display of his pitch-perfect self-deprecation—he claims that his bare chest looks like a scallop with B-cups.
Comedienne Michelle Buteau loves to riff on cultural stereotypes—like the fact that everyone in her building is an elderly Jew who thinks she’s a Jamaican nanny because of the weed smell coming out of her apartment and the white babies she steals to make money.
Speaking of cultural stereotypes, superstar Chris Rock will also perform out on one of the main stages to a whole lot of stoned white people—hope he left the black leather suit at home.
Inside the tent, there will also be sets by veteran Louis CK, former Saturday Night Live writer Leo Allen, Joe DeRosa and a showcase presented by the comedy website Funny or Die.
At Bonnaroo, it’s easy to think music, music, music, but to make it through the grueling ordeal in one piece, it’s important to take breaks, to give your throbbing ears and your sunburned shoulders a break from the weekend’s stress. Catch some late-night ﬁlm noir, watch the NBA Finals on the big screen (Kobe sucks!) or make your way to the comedy tent, where there will be talent sharp enough to titillate even your severely dimmed brain.
For a complete schedule of comedy events, visit bonnaroo.com.
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