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As a collective, those of us chortling at Comix Friday night in the Foxwoods Resort Casino felt proud and worthy. Not three minutes into his headlining set, the wry and always wise Todd Barry gave us a metaphorical pat on the head.
"You guys are better than the sh***y crowd from last night," Barry said.
Maybe we were and maybe we weren't — it's probably a reliable warm-up line Barry uses a lot — but the veteran comic, along with fabulous support from Tom Ryan and Matt D., was consistently hilarious.
In comedians, that's a good thing.
At first glance, in his tails-out plaid dress shirt and faded jeans, walking slowly back and forth across the stage, Barry's general demeanor suggests he's one of those guys for whom the stupidity of the world has made him very tired. But there's a demon's gleam in his eye and a sly smile that underscores his half-whispered delivery. In conjunction with his brutal observational focus, it's a remarkable and unique persona.
His set Friday was a tripartite balance of new material, a few "greatest hits," and a surprising amount off-the-cuff humor based on interaction with the audience. One woman, from Keene, N.H., described herself as a decorative artist — and that sent Barry rolling.
A little more questioning revealed the lady makes "decorative pillows," which caused Barry to comment, "I worry that you use the word 'artist' pretty loosely." He also pondered the cuisine of Keene, suggesting the entire audience meet there Saturday to eat at the city's best restaurant, which he suspected would soon be subject of a two-part Anthony Bourdain special. "I'd forgotten New Hampshire was a state," he concluded.
He then segued into a wonderful bit about morons in restaurants who huffily insist on having lemon served with their complimentary water — and facetiously assured us they were just as adamant in their own homes. "Lemon in water is the norm for these people," he said. "They have 50 cutting boards and spend all month in relentless lemon slicing."
For almost an hour, Barry ruled. He covered prison escapees in Belgium; that the inaugural impulse, to try sushi, should not happen in the Cincinnati airport; the sort of women who'd want a comic to sign their breasts; and a screamingly funny take on people who actually try to retrieve their cellphones after they've been dropped in a toilet.
"But there was no pee in it," Barry quoted the guilty party.
Barry was skeptical. "No pee in the toilet? Ever? A virgin toilet! Crystal pure water! The mayor just cut the ribbon!"
Earlier, the terrific Ryan mined sustained laughter talking about Morton's salt and pickup truck commercials, while the self-effacing twists presented by Matt D. — "My girlfriend came over and wanted to be on top. I let her choose which bunk." — were often brilliant.