Let me start with some apologies. I saw Hal do his stand-up thing last Saturday but due to my lingering illness and work being pretty crazy, only now have I gotten around to posting about his awesome show.
Now you’re probably asking, Hal who? Trust me, you’d know him as soon as you saw him doing his thing on E! or best yet, one of the many VH-1 I Love the Whatever Decade shows. He had a cameo in Spider-Man 2 which got used for commercials and he was a lead character on the Showtime series Queer as Folk. Personally, I didn’t know he did stand-up comedy but as soon as I saw that he was coming to Austin, I contacted my comedy-club buddy Scott and we bought tickets. I figured if he could be one of the best commentators on those rote VH-1 programs, he deserved my support for hours of entertainment on my DVR.
The good news…Hal is awesome! He made me laugh hard enough to prolong my bout of laryngitis. This guy is definitely underrated by the general public for comedy and I think it originates from all his sitcom appearances which turns into an (incorrect) assumption about him not being good at joke telling; remember how badly it went for Michael “Kramer” Richards. The opposite is true. Television is awash in stand-up comics having their schtick adapted into a weekly show or a gig on SNL.
Anyway, Hal had a great string of jokes about his Kentucky origins, voice recognition software, common expressions in American English which are irritating and David Lee Roth’s career as an EMT in NYC. Some people might find his approach “preachy” when talked about Austin and LA’s indoor smoking ban (I completely support it) or why he feels marriage is an outdated concept but I couldn’t care less. Hal brought it back around to a great punch line and I’m willing to let him speak his mind. I paid my money to let him have the floor for an hour which is no different than a movie, play or concert. Lester would’ve liked this guy due to them both being Kentucky refugees plus their peeves over the grammatically incorrect things people say: he is right about unsweetened tea, it didn’t start with sugar so un- implies it was removed.
Another comedian opened named Chris Bonno. This guy’s claim to fame was doing voiceovers for Red Bull. I didn’t recognize the timber or tone when he spoke because those ads are on the radio constantly. Scott thought he was weak. I felt the guy had some solid jokes and I will be keeping an eye out for him again.
Meeting Hal after the show was a great experience. I scored a copy of his current CD. I thought it was a comedy album but it’s his band Zero-1 which was an even cooler surprise (if you want to know what it sounds like, ask me). He gladly autographed it for me. We spoke for a few minutes too. I had to tell him how he made VH-1′s shows funny. (I think he gets told this a lot.) When I asked him about getting to keep the doll of himself from his appearance on Robot Chicken Hal said they only let him have the head since the bodies are re-used. My reply was it’s still cool to have his own action figure. Obviously I gave him my Apple card. This lead to us talking shop a bit: he just received his new iPhone 3G S and he loves it, he owns an older Xserve to host things (it’s one of the primary products I support) and Hal used to own an Macintosh 840AV. Through this precursor video-editing Macs he was really proficient at Adobe Premiere (what people used before Final Cut Pro or iMovie was given away). So proficient, he’s thanked in the documentation of later versions during the late Nineties due to his ability to keep the audio and video synchronized longer than three minutes. I do hope to hear from in the near future, Hal is a Renaissance (funny) guy.