Review: Sarah Silverman & Friends Defile Civic Opera House with Comedy

Sarah Silverman

They say that you save the best for last, and that’s exactly what TruTV, The A.V. Club and The Onion did when they booked Sarah Silverman and her hilarious friends – Dwayne Kennedy, Todd Barry and Todd Glass – to close out the 3rd Annual 26th Annual Comedy Festival on June 5. The show offered comedy fans a variety of humor “flavors” as Silverman curated a night full of foul-mouthed laughs in a most untraditional venue.

“I’m so happy that you’re here,” Silverman said at the top of the show. “We’re in an opera house.” The odd venue – which usually hosts the legendary Lyric Opera – would continue to be a rich topic for the comics throughout the night, with Kennedy citing “tough times for the opera” as the reason for inviting stand-up into the hallowed hall, and Barry joking, “I can’t believe this is a Zanies.” For her part, Silverman noted that her set just sounded better due to the building’s pristine acoustics, a fact that she demonstrated by clearly and repeatedly stating the word, “C*nt,” to sonic perfection. “You’re incorrigible,” a fan later exclaimed in one of the most unique heckles ever thrown.

The traumatic pain of laser hair removal, the embarrassment of an awkward handshake and the true story of her sister overindulging at a college party – which had the crowd hanging on her every word until the hilarious twist of a punchline – were among the subjects that Silverman mined during her first set. She also shared some tender thoughts about her new adopted dog saying, “I don’t know if I rescued her or she rescued me. Which way is less c*nty?”

After Kennedy started the “sausage party” portion of the evening by delivering a side-splitting set about Obama’s success as the first black president and why he is a God-fearing atheist, Silverman returned to the stage to engage in some crowd work with fans in the front row.

If you are looking for rapid-fire laughs, there is no one better than Barry, the third comedian of the night – although he made sure to note that he was indeed the second-most famous act on the bill. His dry, emotionless delivery only added to the hilarity of his observational bits about travel, food and over-priced soap. Glass followed Barry with a deconstructed set that taught fans about the art of comedy while generating lots of laughs about K-Mart’s failing business plan and the questionable allure of QVC.

When it came time for the show’s dénouement, Silverman took the opportunity to share some secrets of show business and recall a creative lunch she had with Kanye West. The entire performance provided intelligent jokes in an edgy package, giving fans plenty to talk about on their way home.

(Photo courtesy of 3rd Annual 26th Annual Comedy Festival)

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Laurie Fanelli is a Chicago-based writer and photographer who specializes in live entertainment coverage. She is at home at major music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and, of course, Lollapalooza and Riot Fest. She loves chatting with hilarious comedians and has interviewed the likes of Maria Bamford, Paula Poundstone and Tracy Morgan, to name a few. She has photographed tons of great bands/musicians – from every genre – including Rob Zombie, Florence and the Machine, Alabama Shakes, Neil Young, Shania Twain, Pitbull, Pierce the Veil, Kendrick Lamar, Patti Smith and many, many more. When not writing or shooting shows, Laurie loves to spend her free time training for marathons and exploring the city of Chicago. She is a longtime vegetarian and animal advocate who likes to cook healthy, delicious meals that everyone can enjoy. For more information or to contact Laurie, head over to www.lauriefanelli.com.

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