At Monday night’s sold-out “Funny or Die Comedy Tour” at the Bryce Jordan Center, featuring Demetri Martin, Nick Swardson and Zach Galifianakis — and hosted by comedic actor Will Ferrell and emceed by Will Arnett — the tears were rolling, but not because it was all funny.
Ferrell's monologues suffered from the same fate as his “Saturday Night Live” skits and many of his movie roles — too much of a good thing. The best thing about successful comedy is timing, or the ability to know when to say when, and Ferrell never nailed that knack.
He came out donning a Penn State sweatshirt and fought ninjas for the better part of a 10-minute routine, rode around on his mobile scooter for kicks and reprised his role as Ron Burgundy to interview Penn State football players Sean Lee and Derrick Williams, all in skits that could have ended six or seven minutes before they did.
Ferrell introduced Martin, the guitar-slinging comedian armed with a sketch pad full of comedy charts and graphs spewing information such as how the probability of a man’s likelihood to smoke pot increases with said man’s likeness to Jesus, and how the comedian will likely like a girl less the more she says “like.”
Martin’s high point was when he pointed his laser pointer on an unsuspecting usher, but the catcalls and unrestrained heckling from the audience made his set seem the weakest.
Swardson was the most stand-up worthy, revisiting happy memories from his “Reno 911” and “Grandma’s Boy” days, the merits of drinking alcohol without dying and the future of old people. In Swardson’s future, the elders will listening to rap music at full volume, will crash their Corvettes and will wrap feces up as gifts to give to relatives.
If you liked Jack Handey’s “Deep Thoughts,” consider Galifianakis’ contemplations of the absurd: “Last night I drank so much I blacked ... I African-Americaned out,” “I have a lot of growing up to do. I realized that the other day inside my fort” and “I wanna open up a cross-dresser store and call it ‘Susan B. Anthony.’ ”
The actor-comedian’s closing skit involved him stripping down to an “Annie” dress and lip-syncing “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” while skipping around on stage, showing us some of his written jokes and occasionally pulling at his underwear.
In his closing monologue, Ferrell swelled with faux pride as he claimed the audience and the performers had become a family, and I agree — if a younger-brother type man-child wielding a sketch pad and laser pointer, the cooler slightly older brother type wearing his baseball hat backward and an overweight schizophrenic, nonsense-spewing uncle character figure prominently as your relatives. Ferrell will never be any cooler — or funnier — than a father figure trying to hold fast to his youth by telling lame jokes and trying to hang with the boys.