It was hilarious. It was impressive. It was certainly epic. On Wednesday night Will Ferrell brought his Funny Or Die Comedy Tour to Columbus, Ohio and changed the lives of over 14,000 Ohio State students.
The capital city and its beloved University have long been accustomed to big events. Hell, every other year we open up the borders to the north and allow a sea of maize and blue to flood our stadium in anticipation of an event known to those around here as “The Game”. Almost steps from Ohio Stadium, the alternating annual host of “The Game” is the Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Inside this arena is the home of Ohio State’s indoor sports programs, the one year home of Greg Oden and a venue for concerts — such as Celine Dion.
But it wasn’t Celine Dion this time around that was drawing student away from studying, playing beer pong and thinking of ways to prevent hypothermia for next year’s jump into Mirror Lake. It was a man whose name has become synonymous with college comedy, Will Ferrell.
For the 8 stop Funny Or Die Comedy Tour, Ferrell and partner Adam McKay have assembled a hot young line-up of comedians, including Zach Galifianakis, Demetri Martin, Nick Swardson and FoD’s own correspondent Andrea Savage. Together with Ferrell they made up the most impressive starting five ever to exit the tunnel at the beloved Schott.
Entering in a Michigan sweatshirt to begin his opening monologue, Ferrell was greeted by a hearty mix of thunderous applause and jovial boo’s before tearing away his maize and blue, revealing a bright scarlet Ohio State sweatshirt underneath. The crowd erupted, it was time for comedy. Instead of the traditional monologue, he was bombarded by ninjas on stage and was ultimately forced to decide between his love of martial arts and his love for a small, plastic baby doll. He chose martial arts, much to the amusement of the packed house.
It was the perfectly pitched start to a show that was everything you could expect from the folks that bring you FunnyOrDie.com. It is obvious that this is a show not just built on great standup from some hot young comedians, but a well crafted narrative performance from two of the best comedic scribes on the face of the planet (Ferrell and McKay).
But back to the interludes in a moment, as there was some great standup to be seen. Zach Galifianakis led the way, looking like a homeless man and stinging the crowd with his delightfully irreverent and playfully observant tone. From his aspirations to be on BET Canada to his characters like “the forgetful vegan”, Galifianakis never lets up. His brand of comedy is snarky and mostly outrageous, but it had the crowd in stitches. He finished his routine in a red dress as Annie, lip-synching “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow”, all the while carefully unveiling messages on a large poster-board sized flip chart. He had plenty of messages, including “I Call My Balls the Bush Twins”, but chief among them was his final slide, which simply read “STOP DANE COOK”. At that moment my heart skipped a beat, as I know someone else who wants to Stop Dane Cook. (Hint: Look right here).
Photo by Willie Jennings
In between Galifianakis and the middleman Demetri Martin, Will Ferrell was back on stage, this time riding a Jazzy around sporting a bikini t-shirt. It was the most ridiculous gag of the night, but it came off without a hitch as only Will Ferrell can do. He fielded questions from the audience via the super-sexy Andrea Savage. One girl barely got her question out before hyperventilating; it was sad and hilarious all at the same time.
Then came Demetri Martin, who was equally as funny as Zach G. He was all over the board, from wanting to see real mascots fight it out rather than the real sports teams (“Magic versus Heat, that would be fucking awesome!”) to playing with the crowd who was so far back in the arena they were almost behind the stage. As well, he brought along his simple yet hilarious drawings that have become a beloved feature on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart over the past year.
Martin gave way back to Adam McKay, the night’s unofficial MC, who was buoyant as introduced the man, the myth and the legend himself, Ron Burgundy. Burgundy emerged from back stage, Scotch in hand and all hopped up on sleeping pills to do an impromptu interview with OSU President Dr. Gordon Gee. Gee and Burgundy went rounds, talking up the old days and their mutual hatred for Michigan Wolverines. It was the highlight of the evening, hands down.
Next up was Nick Swardson, who is the quintessential college comic. His brand of comedy is exactly what you would find in any frat house across America, just a whole hell of a lot funnier. While he wasn’t as outrageous as Galifianakis or as intelligent as Martin, Swardson did put on a great show. He expressed his desire to be adopted by Gordon Gee, only to live in his pocket and pop out every once in a while to fix his bow-tie — and it appears that the Buckeye Nation would be just fine with that.
The Crew of Funny or Die Beat Down a Michigan Wolverine
The night ended as it should, with the cast of the show in spandex singing Alicia Keys’ “No One” in front of a rainbow background. It was a performance that undoubtedly touched the hearts of all in attendance, or at least those who could still breath normally after a night of soul jarring laughter. It is one of those events that can only be explained as a transcendent experience. It is an experience that takes anyone who enjoys a day of diversion on FunnyOrDie.com to the next level of humor bliss. Three drop-dead funny comedians, two brilliant orchestrators and one immaculate evening later, the students of Ohio State will never be the same.
For those who missed the show — you really should spend the next few days reflecting on your transgression. For those still in the path of this behemoth of comedy (specifically College Station, PA, Kingston, RI, Boston, MA, Chapel Hill, NC and New York City), you may want to get out there and find yourself a ticket before time runs out — this is the comedy event of the year, nay, the decade.
Take a look at some collages from the show, courtesy of photographer Willie Jennings. For more on the Funny Or Die Comedy Tour, visit their official homepage and blog.