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Andy Dick’s Performance at Chicago’s ‘Just for Laughs’ Festval Lacks Shock and Awe

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On June 18, subversive comedian Andy Dick took the stage for an evening of self-deprecation and oddball music at the Lakeshore Theater in Chicago as part of Just for Laughs. I arrived at the theater a bit early and that meant being treated to excruciatingly loud pre-show “entertainment”, which consisted of long, shrill advertisements for festival sponsors, Twix and TBS. I suppose that’s unavoidable at these kinds of things, but it’s weird to see so many people plugging their ears at an event they paid to get into. Then some Lakeshore staffer made an announcement that “photography is prohibited.” In the middle of his speech, someone snapped a picture and the staffer got really mad, trying to disguise it as aggressive comedy. Nobody laughed. He then warned that if anyone else took a photo that they’d be thrown out. Is this really a way to start off a comedy show? Especially when the headliner is Mr. Anti-authority himself. For a supposedly hip atmosphere such as the Lakeshore, the workers acted like they were Republican organizers at a McCain rally. But that’s neither here nor there.

Andy Dick took the stage around 10:30 with his bandmates, the Bitches of the Universe. The comedic trio have released two albums thus far, their self-titled debut and Do Your Shows Always Suck? Their opener was a song called “Good Luck with That”, which was surprisingly clean. That would change soon enough. Dick went on to sing about his ever-present alcohol monitoring bracelet and how he’s been sober for eleven months ever since he was arrested for “peeing on cops.” He stated that he does not wish to be known as “Andy Dick the trainwreck” any longer. These candid digressions into his troubled past seemed like a necessary step for the comedian to move on with his career. Not to put Dick in the same class, or even the same universe as the late, great Richard Pryor, but he seemed to be doing his own version of “Pryor on Fire” from Live on the Sunset Strip. Comedy really is therapy.

Overall, the show was entertaining and it did have a few laughs–such as when Dick did an impression of a crack whore screaming about her “blow-caine”–but there weren’t enough laughs. The only moment that somewhat shocked the crows was when Dick came out as his alter-ego Daphne Aguliera and dropped his pants to reveal, gasp!–a vagina! Either he’s a transexual or that was expert makeup. He also pulled his usual antics such as humping a guy in the audience and bringing an unwitting girl on stage to serenade with a porn ditty. Dick wrapped the girl in his microphone cord and belted lyrics like “Did you know your mom did porn before you were born?” right up close to her face. When the song was over he quickly unwrapped her and mumbled, “I can’t afford another lawsuit”. The girl was laughing, so I’m sure he’s in the clear. The audience wasn’t laughing so much, though.

There were so many gags that were DOA that I was starting to wonder if Dick was trying make some kind of experimental point. The trio performed something called “The AIDS bit” that went on far too long. Just referencing a taboo comedy topic such as “AIDS” for the hell of it does not automatically bring laughs. You have to have something to say about it first. But that’s Andy Dick for ya: throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Luckily, because of his flamboyant persona and over-the-top delivery, the few gags that did stick carried the show farther then it deserved it go.

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