Bumbershoot Comedy: Gabe & Jenny"/>
Straight outtta Brooklyn, young comics Gabe Liedman and Jenny Slate are slouching toward the mainstream. He's appeared on NPR, she was briefly on SNL and gave voice to the delightful animated short Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, and together they're developing a show for Comedy Central. Both are close alt-comedy cousins to Sarah Silverman--smart, Jewish, hipster, and working a brand of potty-mouthed humor they always bracket in air quotes. While Seattle traditionally welcomes alt-comedy performers at Bumbershoot, Gabe and Jenny are working their wide-eyed "We're new in town!" routine just a little too strenuously. In their first Seattle show, they weren't quite sure how to size up an afternoon audience of sober Bumber-goers. What works late-night in Williamsburg doesn't always translate so well here...
Without having read their Comedy Central pitch, I'm assuming it goes something like this: Needy, batty, potty-mouthed Jenny thinks Gabe, her nerdy gay BFF, is also her boyfriend! Wacky hijinks ensue! And they start their set with a very funny overlapping monologue, each expertly crossing lines like a radio routine, in which Jenny discusses how great Gabe is (never pressuring her into sex, etc.) while Gabe delicately sidesteps the issue ("If you're not going to wear that top, which looks fierce, I will"). A few episodes of this might work, but eventually their TV characters would have to branch out to other themes.
Then it was on to jokes about Starbucks (this being Seattle and all) and the supposedly made-in-Seattle TV show Frasier, which both profess to love. (Indeed, much of their material seems to draw on their pre-collegiate '90s youth.) The prevailing cloud of irony extended to a series of alternating "Don't you hate it when...?" Seinfeld-style jokes, with an exaggerated gender divide. Gabe comes stage forward, assumes the butchest possible pose, then asks all the bros in the house if they can relate to his problem with watching gay porn on the Internet. (Yes, of course we can, Gabe.) Jenny describes a dream about being sexually serviced by an ATM, but she fails to land the central "bittersweet" joke--a notion directly borrowed from Silverman's famous gag about being raped by a doctor.
Ten years after they met at Columbia, Gabe and Jenny maintain an enjoyably raunchy dorm-room rapport. Still, they're pushing 30 already. Seinfeld wasn't much older when he broke out of the comedy clubs. At some point you've got to admit you're an adult, then drop the air quotes.
Gabe & Jenny next appear with Fred Armisen (8 p.m. Sat., Intiman Theatre) and again with Armisen, plus Kurt Braunohler (1 p.m. Sun., Intiman).