The Stranger “Defriending Cancer” Seattle Benefit Review

Another Take on Last Night’s “Defriending Cancer” Benefit
posted by JASON BAXTER on FRI, FEB 12, 2010 at 5:14 PM
There’s nothing like the acid tongue of Todd Barry to put the garnish on a really unfortunate fuck-up. I was late to last night’s Defriending Cancer comedy/concert gig at the Moore, and paid for it with a couple seconds of sardonic condescension courtesy of Barry, the night’s permanently chill emcee and co-organizer (with Sub Pop’s Megan Jasper) of the whole shebang.
Just as Tim Heidecker was exiting the stage to a standing O, I was wedging my way towards my up-close seats. No conceit implied, guys—the whole row was actually a line of remarkably uncomfortable chairs that filled the narrow space between a cluster of folding chairs and the Moore’s fixed seating. Not that I’m hopping on the whine wagon or anything; on the “bummer scale,” the crappiness of the seats was virtually incomparable to missing Heidecker’s bit.

Ultimately, it was worth the sore back, because all the rest of the evening’s comics slayed. Tig Notaro absolutely floored me, despite my having no idea who she was. Her set was almost entirely comprised of anecdotal recollections of her many encounters with washed-up lite rock singer Taylor Dayne, and Notaro milked an amazing—and never tedious—amount of material from that flimsy chain of events. Eugene Mirman was in his usual fine form, and Neil Hamburger appeared to be an unexpected crowd favorite. His presence on the evening’s roster provided a nice high-concept counterpoint to the laid-back delivery of Barry, Notaro, et al. His best and sharpest jokes were music-related; maybe my favorite was the following:
What’s the only thing worse than 9/11? 311!

I wish I could say I was as satisfied with James Mercer and Isaac Brock’s acoustic performances, but honestly they felt a little sloppy. I guess the looseness of the musical sets, with their guitar solos that spiraled into accidental wince-inducing missteps, is understandable. It was a charity show, after all, and Brock and Mercer (who’s busy at the moment with his Broken Bells side venture) are more than likely a little out of practice. Mercer, who was joined onstage by Shins guitarist Dave Hernandez, played a set that cowed to the crowd’s appetite, with “Caring is Creepy,” “Australia,” and a cover of Morrisey’s “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” making the cut. Brock was a little less liberal, offering only post-Good News material (maybe this explains all of the hollered, drunken requests for deep-cut encores). Regardless, that dude can really shred on the banjo.

My fleeting glimpse of the mustached Heidecker—during a “here they all are, folks” curtain call—was a nice enough way to cap off the event. For a glimpse at said mustache (really, it is a thing of beauty), refer to this special Valentine’s Day feature Tim and Eric did for The Onion.