Five reasons to see the perfectly peculiar stand-up Brent Weinbach
The L.A.-based comic's blend of bizarre jokes, songs and curious impressions lead the audience through the caverns of his brain
Tue Feb 14 2012
Photograph: Mindy Tucker
1. He’s impressively weird.
Even among today’s roster of Andy Kaufman–inspired alt performers, Weinbach is a delightfully odd bird. Don’t get us wrong—he’s a peacock, it’s just that his plumage is made from cotton candy soaked in chloroform. A placid exterior and sonorous baritone belie the heap of Ice Age movies, reggaetón jams and Shakespearean soliloquies tangled in his brain. Weinbach leaps from carefully crafted impressions of, say, students he met while substitute teaching in Oakland right into ridiculous impersonations of “gay train” and “something.” He contacts the spirits of still-living relatives by chanting Bone Thugs-n-Harmony lyrics. After getting women onstage, he seduces them with songs about his feces. When it’s all over, the audience feels as though it has crawled—Being John Malkovich–style—through the gooey caverns of his brain.
2. He knows how to handle being called weird, and does so on national TV.
The last time he was on Conan, he confessed that he’d been accused of “acting too creepy” onstage. He then folded himself in half, held his hands like deformed claws, waddled over to molest a member of the audience and told jokes such as “Do you know what the problem with poo poo is? God made it delicious!” Then he calmly stood upright and asked, in his usual, commanding tone, “Did that seem less creepy to you?”
3. He’s not strange in a vacuum.
Picasso deeply understood realism when he went Cubist, and Weinbach violates joke structure because he understands how it works. Even his seemingly random ramblings have some kind of punch line. In an extended bit on the recent release Mostly Live, he talks about the difficulty he had understanding a Scottish comic and asks the audience to go along with a scientific experiment: Speaking in unintelligible, accented gibberish, he encourages the crowd to laugh despite the fact they don’t know what he’s saying. Peppering his silly, cadenced speech with cartoonish cursing, it’s clear Weinbach has structured the bit to prompt multiple laughs, which come unforced. Later, pronouncing the experiment a failure, he confesses that it was an excuse to do an impression of his Filipino uncle.
4. He commits to his bits.
In what may be his most famous joke to date, “Russian Alphabet,” he recites the English alphabet from A to Z in an ostensibly Russian accent and gives examples of words that start with each letter to help a listener contextualize. Interestingly, every example ends in “get the fuck out my house, motherfucker.” (“H. House. It’s mine. Get the fuck out my house, motherfucker.”) Though there are twists and turns, Weinbach powers through all 26 letters using variations of the same formula without blinking. It’s amazing.
5. He has a podcast that revolves solely around themes from 8- and 16-bit video games, and occasionally he and his cohost hold dance parties.
Brent Weinbach performs two 45-minute sets at Sack Magic Mon 18. Mostly Live (A Special Thing Records, $10) is out now.