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Riggle Room

Daily Show correspondent and UCB alum unveils stand-up set

Maybe it’s being under tutelage of Jon Stewart, but Rob Riggle has gone from intermittent flashes of brilliance in improv, small roles in a few independent films centered around Upright Citizens Brigade players and one SNL season where Lorne Michaels underused him, to a solid hour-plus stand-up comedy act seen at the UCB Theatre July 26.

Riggle’s emergence from the UCB scene in this respect might seem unexpected, because the theater and the stars it has spawned tend to favor improv and sketch comedy over stand-up, but his storytelling seen in past improv performances pointed to what he can do with stand-up. (UCB’s all-star ASSSCAT Sunday night shows often feature storytelling, even “designated storytellers,” as the impetus for their scenes).

A lot of Riggle’s stand-up act plays on an insensitive guy persona, but it’s edgier and smarter than Adam Sandler or Ray Romano, for example. In one extended riff, Riggle goes off on “oldies,” as he calls senior citizens, and his irrational hatred for them in places like airports and supermarkets. Riggle tells an improbable story of one addled senior inspecting various bags coming around on the baggage carousel (as Riggle puts it, “finger-fucking” each one for, like, 5 minutes) and failing to realize his suitcase is indeed his the first time around.

But Riggle doesn’t always rely on profanity to be funny. In another air travel riff, he talks about getting his revenge on an annoying group of Long Islanders seated around him on a flight by letting go “hot flow” (his coinage for silent farts) around them as he gets up for a walk to the bathroom.

You could even say Riggle has a knack for making bodily function humor smart, as in another section of the show about the disgusting aspects of football stadium men’s rooms -- in a Carlin-esque riff, Riggle asks us to imagine 200 guys drunk, eating stadium food, and holding it in for hours because it’s a close game. “We don’t deserve love,” he concludes.

Considering that Riggle is a Daily Show player now, he doesn’t get into politics much in his stand-up, other than a riff about liking the current time in the Presidential primaries because “you can watch the also-rans get picked off one by one like some sort of sleep-away camp horror movie.”

And considering that this appears to be one of the first times Riggle has done a stand-up set like this, it’s surprisingly fully formed, almost ready to be worthy of release as a CD, or perhaps as a Comedy Central hour special if it’s cleaned-up or beeped just a little. Hopefully someone’s steering Riggle in that direction.




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