The latest installment of Wits proved to be another triumph for smarty pants comedians wingin’ it on the fly. John Hodgman’s night on the Fitzgerald stage with host John Moe and musical host John Munson was the highlight of my chaotic year thus far. Whether you know him as the “PC guy,” the resident expert on The Daily Show, or even from his books about fake knowledge, if you’ve heard of him at all, John Hodgman has probably made you hyperventilate with laughter at least once. His nerdy chic style mixed with his ever-poised wit kept the Friday night crowd crying into their beers for hours.
The show’s theme, “An Examination of Diversions, Distractions, and Hey Look at That Thing Over There,” was a testament to this generation’s predicament with the expectation of constant instant gratification. Hodgman and other members of the collection of Johns touched on the many ways they get distracted and how they deal with it, in the most convoluted way possible of course. With an overwhelming emphasis on Twitter and Twitter-related habits (including some tweeting on stage, when sitting still got to be a little too taxing), the bits were many and the solutions were few, but according to Hodgman distractions are just a part of living in this modern era. There’s no need to prove if it’s good or bad, it just “it is what it is.”
But, that’s certainly easy for a man like Hodgman to say. The man has made a fortune on books that bounce around from topic to topic more than a child with ADD on a YouTube binge. There’s no denying that this generation is plagued by endless stimulation from every channel we’ve been able to conjure so far, but while the Dali Lama might be saying you need to clear your head, John Hodgman is telling you to shut up and ….what was I saying again? Oh yeah, embrace it.
May I note that I couldn’t even write an opening sentence without getting distracted multiple times, so the fact that you are still reading this already has me impressed. Unlike Hodgman, I am unable to entice you with a love song on the ukulele or with pages of epically long footnotes. Instead, I must stick to old-fashioned wordplay 1.0. But once again I digress, and now I must return to the topic of this review.
The four Johns: guest Hodgman, host Moe, musical host Munson and musical guest Roderick (lead singer and guitarist for The Long Winters) threw in a couple of planned deviations from the playbill including a live appearance from supposed phone guest Neil Gaiman, author of the graphic novel Coraline and an appearance from Damian Kulash, lead singer and guitarist for OK Go, who countered the mood with a rather slow love ballad followed by an encore string of jumping jacks across the stage. Distractions galore, nuf said.
Needless to say, I am really crossing my fingers that Minnesota Public Radio keeps this series going. Good news to those who missed the show, the videocast for the Hodgman show as well as previous Wits installments is available by clicking here, or you may have already figured out that there was a link to it in the first sentence, in which case you passed my test for the truly distracted (check out the rest of the links for even more fun distractions). Enjoy!