Comedians bring lively set to cemetery show

Halloween was a few weeks ago, but that didn’t stop more than 100 people from congregating at the famous Hollywood Forever cemetery on Wednesday night.

People weren’t there to visit deceased loved ones or to scare themselves, but to experience a night of comedy at the monthly “Comedy is Dead” event.  Most would argue that there’s nothing funny about a cemetery, but the all-star crew — including Todd Barry, Chris Hardwick and Joe Rogan — did their best to prove that theory false.

This was the 13th installment of Comedy is Dead event, a fitting number for such a dark and eerie venue.

“This is the creepiest comedy venue ever,” said Matt Kirshen, a British comedian and former finalist on Last Comic Standing. Kirshen served as the night’s host, getting the crowd into the spirit of things before the sets began.

“At the end of the show we’re all going to run naked into the cemetery and start dancing around a tree,” he said.

Most of the other comedians felt similarly compelled to comment on the unusual venue for the show.

“Where there are thrones and a pentagram, there have been sacrificed babies,” Duncan Trussell said during his set.

The show, however, was not held in the grassy areas surrounding the graves, as some concerts at the cemetery are.

Instead, it took place on the second floor of the historic Masonic lodge.  Despite the pentagram dangling from the ceiling and abundance of candles lining the stage, the inside of the lodge is more Hollywood than cemetery, with classic movie posters decorating the walls.

“I never knew the Masons were such big Star Wars fans,” Kirshen said.

Last Comic Standing judge and regular Chelsea Lately contributor Natasha Leggero was the first comedian to perform.  She exhibited quality material about Snooki and Bristol Palin that would fit in on the celebrity-bashing Chelsea Lately Show, but much of her set consisted of imitating obnoxious accents that were entertaining at first, but ultimately grew annoying.

Following Leggero was Sean Rouse, an uninhibitedly vulgar and, at times, offensive comedian.  He sat in one of the lodge’s large, ornate chairs as he told off-kilter jokes about rape, abortion, race, religion and his own crippling rheumatoid arthritis.

“Rheumatoid arthritis means you’re so much of an asshole that your own immune system turns against you,” Rouse said. Despite the subject matter, the crowd laughed loudly to his offbeat comedy.

Self-proclaimed nerd Chris Hardwick followed Rouse.  When Hardwick wasn’t telling jokes about rednecks from his native Tennessee or nerdy gadgets and games, he discussed ghosts, a popular topic for the night.

He described testing out a failed ghost detecting device at that very cemetery, making the observation that ghosts are always described as more than a hundred years old, never as Sunset Strip-frequenting hair metal fans from the 1980s.

“Every channel has a ghost hunting show, except the news,” Hardwick said before going in to a rant about how the media would react if ghosts were actually real.

Comedian Duncan Trussell, perhaps best known for the “Drunk History” sketches on, also had a few jokes about supernatural phenomena.

“I’m afraid that I’ll get an exorcism and I’ll come out,” he said.

Todd Barry was originally listed as the show’s headliner, but performed second to last.  His soft-spoken observational humor told in a deadpan monotone seemed to  with the crowd, some of which left immediately after his performance, thinking he was the show’s finale.

Those that left early definitely missed out on the best performance of the night.  Michael Ian Black, veteran of sketch comedy show The State and star of former Comedy Central shows Stella and Michael & Michael Have Issues, was slated to perform until he was replaced by UFC commentator and former Fear Factor host Joe Rogan.

Rogan had a much louder and more aggressive approach to his comedy compared to Barry, providing a refreshing burst of energy to the night.

“Gaze upon my douchebag attire,” Rogan said as he took the stage wearing a backwards cap and a leather jacket. “I’m 43 and still wearing a wallet chain.”

For those that don’t know Rogan outside of his stint on broadcast television’s Fear Factor, his jokes are usually profane and often include descriptions of his frequent drug experimentation.

“Marijuana and mushrooms are some of the most important things I’ve done in my life,” Rogan said before admitting that they occasionally make him come up with stupid observations, such as, “A unicorn is a donkey from the future.”

Rogan finished his headlining set with an extended joke comparing the boring and depressing nature of emotional songs such as “Hey There Delilah” with the ridiculous but enjoyable nature of hip-hop songs such as Ludacris’s “Saturday.”

As the show ended the crowd didn’t run into the cemetery naked and dance around the trees, but they did walk past the graves to their cars with smiles on their faces.