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Double Fun

Comix pairing of new comic star Iliza Shlesinger and veteran stand-up Kyle Cease entertains.

Pictured: Shlesinger and Cease.

By Michael Taub

Jester correspondent

Earlier this month, Comix hosted a pairing of experienced stand-up Kyle Cease and newer comic face Iliza Shlesinger (see interview, 7/11/09) that gave audiences a more developed, albeit manic act, preceded by a more focused, but simpler one.

Seen April 2, Cease, a 30-something from Seattle, sported a backwards Mariners hat and close-cropped reddish beard and mustache and made his way to the stage through the audience rather than from behind the curtain, like most performers. It was the first sign Cease is a bit different as a stand-up. He bounced around topics at bullet speed, and his attention span shifted equally quickly, at one point going from self-deprecating tales of relationships to bantering with an audience member in the front. That exchange became a frequent callback as Cease’s performance progressed, with interruptions for high-fives and more banter with the observer.

Cease can deploy mimicry – with surreal, odd choices of subjects – as he portrayed a kamikaze revenge attack on a Japanese roommate, as well as the Pillsbury Doughboy. It all could be a bit dry, a la David Cross, only more like Cross’ absurd side rather than his political side. When Cease lost the audience a bit, he would simplify with lower-impact Gallagher antics – splashing water off a stool onto the audience.

Nonetheless, Cease demonstrated command of the room, dissecting the behavior of some college girls up front who seemed to be paying more attention to each other than his performance. And Cease also had a concept to close his performance, improvised within certain parameters – he would reenact the whole performance in abridged form to music, both his own material and the exchanges with the audience, making fine use of physical comedy along the way.

Iliza Shlesinger, the co-headliner, is best known for winning a season of “Last Comic Standing,” and at 27, doesn’t have as many years of road work and credits as Cease, but her personality goes a long way. That began as she took the stage, with her dog Blanche as a prop, holding the dog up in various positions, playing off a cuteness factor.

It may actually be a bit unbelievable that Shlesinger, with girl-next-door looks and charm, has relationship woes to use as fodder in her comedy, but she does mine this territory. “What guys really want,” she said at one point, is “to mouth kiss and touch ‘snootch’ – that sounds nicer than snatch.” And, she opines, the traditional roles of men as hunters and women as gatherers are misleading. When women are shopping, they’re really the hunters, she says.

Shlesinger does throw in a little surrealism. Just as she brought out her own pet dog, she also throws some animal mimicry into the act – cats, sheep and deer all make appearances – as do impressions of dogs enjoying, well, “doggystyle,” to great effect. It’s unexpected from someone who’s mostly more traditional as a performer, keeping to accepted stand-up comedy narratives, but that’s what makes her interesting and probably got her the “Last Comic Standing” prize. Being the girl that most guys wished lived next door probably doesn’t hurt either.




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