Guest Blog — A&E Editor Emeritus Jay Boller

Mark Brenden

Micheal Showalter is a funny dude. He was superb in “Wet Hot American Summer,” sound in “The State” and stellar in Comedy Central’s short-lived sitcom “Stella.” So when he awkwardly ushered in his gig at the Pitchfork Festival, the audiences’ antennae assumed it was part of the act. A couple tepidly projected wisecracks in, it was clear Showalter was running on fumes. At that point, things got ugly. Cliché hipster jokes? Strike. Hallow anecdotes about “the Mile High Club” and summer camp ? Double check. Increasingly hostile audience interactions? Oh God, just stop. An obvious lack of comfort set in between the comic and his audience as Showalter overtly projected his flailing, water treading limbs. Things only got worse – ala quicksand – as he attempted to dig out, but the crowds’ eager shouts to salvage his performance just rendered things increasingly pathetic. Things bottomed out at the funnyman pleaded for crowd suggestions, only to be met with the insulting “What at the directions to Stage A?” Showalter hinted at giving up early 20 minutes in, but floundered for another 10 minutes before – in his words – he left with his tail between his legs. The result left an empathetic rock in the pit of the audiences’ stomach: Showalter is a respected Indie comic, but buckled under the festival atmospherics and – just maybe –pressure.