Mike Lawrence | Zanies | Stand-Up | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Feb. 13-15 2015
Price: $25 plus two-drink minimum
On his 2013 debut album, Sadamantium (Comedy Central), comedian Mike Lawrence deconstructs pop culture with a nearly rabid diligence, though he’s less obsessive than he is vigilant, indicative of a mind that’s constantly churning. His lengthy breakdown of Batman as the ultimate GOP presidential candidate—“He’s a wealthy guy who uses all of his money to beat the shit out of the homeless and the mentally ill”—is just one of many bits that illustrates his novel approach to topics that saturate the Reddit-era cultural conversation. If Lawrence talked only of superheroes and video games onstage, he might be disposable, indistinguishable from any other Internet-age comic relying on cheap and unimaginative references to build an audience of similarly simple-minded nostalgia hounds, but his irreverence and apparent distaste for his own interests give him a delightfully paradoxical appeal. This approach reaches its full potential when Lawrence couches a dark personal history full of self-doubt in nerdy allusions. The title of Sadamantium—a portmanteau of “adamantium,” a mythic alloy used to create the superhero Wolverine’s extendable claws, and the word “sad”—exemplifies the comedian’s penchant for shrouding emotional issues with humor. Stories of an absent father and childhood bullies are peppered with references to 80s movies; in maybe the most emotionally revealing moment on the album, Lawrence details the time he had to watch The Goonies just so he could understand why all the kids at school were calling him Sloth. None of this would work if Lawrence weren’t such an affable on-stage presence. His calm, conversational style takes the sting, but not the resonance, out of his more despondent material. With Lawrence, you laugh to keep from crying. —Drew Hunt

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