Jeff Garlin runs a very loose ship when he hosts a comedy show. For his “Combo Platter” he clearly prepared a bare minimum of an agenda, and then let the pieces fall together how they will. His style makes the show drag in brief moments where he tries to reorganize his acts on the fly, but overall it adds to the energy of the performances. I got the feeling that everyone in the theater, performer or audience, had a great time and the feeling of not knowing just what comes next is rare for a performer to be able to convey to an audience with the easiness that Garlin manages.
His first act, Supercute, a comic music act of teenage girls, by Garlin’s own admission, caught his ear by simply handing him a CD. For girls their age they had an unusual amount of confidence and stage presence, and their ukulele-rich version of “Misty Mountain Hop” needs to be heard to appreciate it. Their act lives up to the moniker for certain.
Interspersed were comedians Jessi Klein, whom I knew to be really funny from her gig last year opening for Zach Galifianakis at the Skirball Center, and Amy Schumer, whom I had not before heard perform. Their sets felt a little ramshackle, as they were at Garlin’s whim as to when they went on and seemed unsure as to how long to go, so the endings felt too abrupt; but both did some great jokes, if briefly performing. I would love to see each of them again.
Garlin holds the show together with stories in between, more than jokes, but really anything he does or says is funny. He has so much presence on stage and such an easy rapport with the audience that even a silly prize giveaway segment (he gave a box of Jell-O at one point) was far more entertaining than it deserved to be. It went a little long as he had at least a couple dozen prizes, but he could have done that all night and everyone would have been satisfied. His “Combo Platter” segment went a little off the rails as his closer. He had to keep too much track of the time as he ran the show to the absolute limit of what he had allotted, being a very giving performer, and he clearly had very little preparation with the two comedians, Klein and Schumer, but their chemistry kept it moving pretty well.
Anyone who can see the show really should check it out (he hosts it weekly at the L.A. UCB theater). Best five bucks I ever spent.