Published Jul 31, 2016Daytime festival events can be a strange affair, particularly at something like the world's largest (and longest) comedy festival. There's always a risk of crippling hangovers — and not just the crowd. While most comedians will abstain from drinking on stage these days, at least until after their set — it's possible podcasters have a different attitude towards it. At least Dan Harmon, writer, comedian, and host of popular podcast Harmontown seems to.
When he is brought to the stage by co-host Jeff B. Davis, immediately following contributor Spencer Crittenden, he reaches for a bottle of chilled vodka. He prepares himself one straight-up on ice, and this is not hidden, nor talked about either. It'd just one of those things — Dan Harmon likes to drink, and nobody cares one way or the other at this live taping.
But they do care about Harmontown; this is a packed room, and it could be just as suited for a Tony Robbins appearance. Jeff is at the podium; Dan stands and takes centre; Spencer is seated with a mic at a draped side table.
Harmon begins of course, with Davis and Crittenden chiming in occasionally and it starts as you might imagine — Americans in Canada. They think we're weird, in case you didn't know. Not as a people, more targeted to our societal quirks. He begins spewing little known "facts" about Montreal and Canada: the Prime Minister of Canada is "King Geraldo"; the typewriter was invented in Montreal. There are jabs about the metric system, and yes, he can count to ten in French. It's rambling, but totally works.
Much of Dan Harmon's set, if you can call it that, unfolds this way, along with a few vodka top-ups. Pretty soon, he launches into a gross story. He lives with his girlfriend Cody, and they got some new sheets for their bed. He accidentally shat on them. Why? Because he was masturbating and coughed. He gets a good 30 minutes from this.
Then it's audience time, and Harmon announces they will bring up some "Montrealians." The theme is simple — they want to speak with someone that is feeling really shitty, and someone who is happy. The first guy to come up has come from Ottawa, just to see Harmontown. Like most others in attendance, he's a fan, and he's the guy who claims to be "feeling shitty." When Harmon and Davis ask him why, he explains that he lost his wife suddenly in March — and she was pregnant. Normally, you'd feel the air come out of a show after something like that. But this is the beautiful part; no one falters.
Harmon gets him to open up, and there is comedy relief. It looks like this guy feels better, because suddenly, he has a new support group. And that is one of the positive side effects of fandom; camaraderie. When you share a passion with a room full of people, there is strength in that. It's an unexpected moment that brings everyone together. Davis even tells him that he'd like to have a drink with him after the taping, and encourages others in the audience to join.
Hamrontown ends on a hilarious high note, with Davis kicking a soulful beat, and Harmon rap-riffing, and holy shit, he's pretty good at it. He gets his new friends from the audience to participate, with much applause. What begins as a fan experience ends with a familial tone, and you feel good about it. If you didn't listen to much of Harmontown before seeing this, you probably will now.