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REVIEW: Todd Glass at UP Comedy Club

By Allison Kelley in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 23, 2014 5:00PM

Todd Glass is a madman.

At his show on Thursday night, he punched himself in the head no fewer than three times, chugged three glasses of wine (two of which were stolen from an audience member), and eviscerated a back row heckler. Thursday was Glass’s kickoff to his three-night run at Second City’s UP Comedy Club.

But don’t misunderstand his antics: Todd Glass is insane, but he’s also calculating. And he never once lost control of the night.

The guide and MC for the night was comic CJ Toledano, who successfully prepped the audience for the silly night ahead.

Toledano, who went to Columbia College and spent much of his formative comedy years in Chicago, presented a set on the topic of “transition.”

Like his transition from fat to thin, and that time, as a kid, when he wore a shirt to the beach and some guy was like, “Hey kid, nice Mickey Mouse shirt!” But it was just his black nipples showing through the soaked t-shirt. And his transition from boy to man illustrated in an anecdote about him trying to sneak into a movie as a 27-year-old. “What are you doing?” the grown man movie attendant asked Toledano. “No man, what are we doing?”

Next, Whitmer Thomas performed an absurd set that built nicely off of Toledano’s silliness, and also paved the way for Glass’s hilarious, full-force weirdness. Maintaining an insistence that he be a “silly voice, funny face” guy, Thomas showed the audience his “Wanda Sykes and Catholicism” bit in which Sykes, played by Thomas, gets infuriated over the order of the Holy Trinity.

Later, he used his “silly voice” to do a dead-on impersonation of Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus and his grating counterpart, Tom DeLonge, in their overwrought pop ballad, “Miss You.”

Last, Todd Glass entered the stage singing. Frank Sinatra’s “Bim Bam Baby” to be exact. At one point, he asked the audience to sing along, as Glass fudged his way through much of the nonsense lyrics.

The use of music played a huge role in Glass’s set. In one music bit he pretended to not know where the music was coming from, despite his frequent conversations with the engineer at the back of the room in charge of the music. Glass used all he was given, flinging open the stage’s three prop doors and peering backstage to find the originator of the music.

Later, he expertly dropped his mic and dramatically swung it around, catching it in mid-air. At times, it felt like being at a Las Vegas supper club show. Glass brought all the class of Sinatra but infused a thoroughly modern dose of brutally honest humor. Where Sinatra used niceties like “broad,” Glass would say, “dumb fucking piece of shit” to describe the greedy home buyers on House Hunters, people who casually use the word “retard,” a girl he sat next to on a plane that ate a Kit Kat too slow, etc.

Two years ago, Glass was a guest on the popular comedy podcast, WTF with Marc Maron, where he came on with the express purpose of publicly coming out of the closet.

While some audience members may have been expecting more material about Glass' coming out, the comic only briefly touched on the topic in a funny insider bit. Using the stage stool, Glass curled up on it, pulling his feet up to his chin. “This is how Maron performs,” he said. “I shouldn’t make fun of him. But he tricked me. I was only on the show to promote my book.”

Towards the end of his hour-plus show, Glass showed no signs of slowing down. With the music at full-force, he jumped off stage and into the crowd, grabbing a girl’s yellow knit hat and putting it on over what he called his “thin John Goodman” head. He snaked through the tiny club tables and leapt back on stage, still wearing the hat. “If you saw that in a movie you’d be like, ‘Is that really how it happened?!’” Pointing out the ridiculousness of the experience he created that we all got to take part in.

The end of the show was slightly marred by an impatient heckler that Glass would not tolerate. Seemingly right after Glass praised UP for being professional and a joy to work with, and despite the reminders to not shout out at the top of the show that Glass himself read aloud, a dude in the back row got bored and yelled out, “Tell a joke!”

The crowd hushed and Glass proceeded to call out the guy’s character in one of the clearest examples of “saying what everyone else wishes they could say.”

“You’re a coward,” Glass said. “I’m sure your friends love you for your other great characteristics but not this.” The pack of bros the dude came with shifted nervously in their seats. It was satisfying but also wildly uncomfortable and Glass had to work extra hard to bring the audience back to a state of levity.

The night closed with a frenetic bit about ShamWow and its magical powers to seep into every part of your life. From start to close, Glass maintained an impressive high energy that catapulted his observational humor to the next level. He kept the audience engaged and laughing, just as long as they could hold on for the ride.

To find out more about Todd Glass, listen to his podcast or buy his book, check out his website. To catch a show at UP Comedy Club located at 230 W North Ave, check out their list of upcoming shows.