by Intern Ben Orbison
When I first got to the SummerStage in Central Park, the first thing I noticed was how absolutely packed it was. I never expected there would be such a huge turnout for comedy, but then again, I am not that bright.
I procured a small, eight-dollar beer and took a seat on the ground. The man sitting behind me started doing his own stand-up set for the woman I assume was his date. It was gut-wrenchingly awkward. She gave him some pity-laughs, but by the time he was finished, I thought I would never be able to enjoy stand-up again Fortunately, Sheng Wang, John Pinette, and Jim Gaffigan saved me from that terrible fate with three great sets in a row.
Sheng Wang’s laid-back, observational style was a great start to the show. He was so at ease, he made the huge, outdoor venue seem like a small club. Throughout his set (and the others), there was a woman
behind me who would say “so true” after every joke—annoying, but she wasn’t wrong. Every one of his jokes seemed grounded in an everyday absurdity, a style I am partial to. He did about fifteen minutes, and I
definitely wanted him to have more time. Alas, there was more comedy to see.
If Lewis Black, Ralphie May and Gilbert Gottfried got together and somehow had a baby (take a minute and let that image sink in… you’re welcome), that child would be John Pinette. He is an over-the-top, incredibly likable comedian whose delivery is almost cartoon-like. His intricate facial expressions really accentuate his set. Even when viewed on a JumboTron, Pinette had a magnetic energy throughout his set that was really fun to watch.
Then, there was Gaffigan.
How good was Jim Gaffigan’s set, you ask? I was able to really enjoy his set even as the "so true" lady, who apparently had one too many eight-dollar beers, began passionately making out with her boyfriend. That's powerful comedy. Gaffigan spoke about his wife and newborn son, who began crying at a certain point in the show—he seemed to take issue with his dad’s notion that a person has to be incredibly drunk to enjoy Hot Pockets.
He riffed on New Yorkers. He discussed his gym in ways that I could never do justice in summarizing. Gaffigan’s set just seemed so effortless—like he was just saying whatever occurred to him at the time.
The event was exactly what live comedy should be: a good time. In fact, the night ended for me on a personally hilarious note: as I was leaving the park, I heard the “so true” lady totally seriously ask her Boyfriend if they could go get some Hot Pockets.