Blog: Harmontown at The Bell House
Imagine a town where vodka flows like wine, the Vice President of The United States of America prank calls a comedic legend, and Dungeons and Dragons is played before a live audience. Sounds like heaven right? Well grab your luggage and join me on a trip to “Harmontown!” On Wednesday night, the LocalBozo crew headed down to Gowanus, Brooklyn’s Bell House for a live taping of television producer and “Community” creator Dan Harmon’s popular podcast, Harmontown. Like always, Harmon was joined by his co-host and comedic counterpart, Jeff Davis. Prior to this outing we had only heard of, but never had listened to this much talked about podcast. But after this insanely funny live taping, we are sure to become loyal followers.
Shortly after 8pm, the well dressed Davis appeared onstage to a barrage of applause and with an iPad Mini in hand for the purpose of playing various musical tracks throughout the show, Jeff wasted no time in kicking off the show. Moments later the man of the hour and a half was introduced as Dan Harmon jumped onto the stage holding a vodka-rocks, kicking the show off with a bombastic introduction. Both Harmon and Davis took the first few moments to compliment the intimacy of the Bell House. Dan could be heard saying that this was the room where the Pixies had to have played in the past while someone was shooting up smack. Several funny jokes were levied at New York but done with love in mind. And unlike many live comedy shows or podcast tapings, the crowd yelled out frequently to respond to many of Harmon and Davis’ statements. But instead of getting mad or kicking anyone out, Harmon responded with faux anger in hilarious fashion.
Audience participation was paramount to Wednesday’s taping as the team would bring up a topic and instantly ask for members of the crowd to hop on stage and pay it credence. One of the best examples of that came when Harmon wanted to know if there were any African American members of the crowd. One funny and very bright woman named Mya was happy to jump onstage and trade barbs and jokes with Harmon. She is a screenwriter and Dan wanted to help her flesh out her idea of a girl with a man’s voice. The results were quite funny and perfect for some treadmill listening. During this exchange, Harmon noticed one of the seats saying “Reserved” was empty in the front. He locked onto this and called out the gentlemen who arrived late, adding yet another gut busting fourth wall breaking aspect to the live show.
Throughout the night both Harmon and Davis made a ton of fake celebrity guest introductions, all of which were eaten up by the sold out crowd. But about halfway through the show, a real celebrity was introduced. It was Saturday Night Live star Jason Sudeikis who jumped right into Harmon’s non-traditional show that can turn on a moment’s notice, morphing into something different altogether. Harmon joked with Jason about SNL and about Jodie Foster’s bewildering speech at the Golden Globe Awards. Yet the real joy came from Sudeikis’ busting out og his Joe Biden impression, using it for various jokes. The crown jewel came when Harmon grabbed his own cell phone and dialed his former “Community” colleague Chevy Chase in front of the live crowd. With the call going to voicemail, Harmon all but forced Sudeikis to prank call the comedy legend as the Vice President. The crowd ate this up and waited nervously with baited breath as it was all going down.
Like all Harmontown performances, a live playing of the famous role playing game Dungeons and Dragons transpired on the stage. Many in the audience who were huge D&D fans came with props making this a very interactive portion of an already out of control show. Mentions of Harmon’s former show were sparse, and maybe that was a good thing. He is moving on to bigger and more creative territory with this podcast and we were thrilled to be standing there, taking it all in. Be sure to catch the show when it appears online. It may make your ears bleed and mouth froth with joy.
- Jay Rubin