A comedy show might not seem like the ideal place to solicit relationship advice, but Sunday night at Park West — which is the most romantically inclined of Chicago’s comedy venues, if anyone’s tracking that — two couples made their way to the stage and received a few tips (and a lot of teasing) from comedians (and married couple) Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher.
Leggero (“Another Period,” “Dice”) and Kasher (“Problematic with Moshe Kasher”) were stopping in Chicago for the penultimate show of their nine-stop “Endless Honeymoon” tour to deliver stand-up sets (separately) and opine about love (together). “We’ve been married for a year and a half, which pretty much makes us relationship experts,” Leggero declared. Besides, how bad could it be to get help from a comedic couple in front of a live audience?
“The worst thing that can happen is that you will be mocked by a couple of professional mockers while hundreds of strangers film it on their iPhones,” Kasher warned before bringing couples to the stage.
While the advice itself was much more lackluster than the mockery — in both cases the wisdom the couple passed on was borderline dismissive while the one-liners and jabs were consistently sharp — the premise itself is a solid one. The couples’ therapy comedy structure not only plays into the self-centered indulgence of audience members looking for the limelight, it creates an opportunity for reality show voyeurism for everyone else. It also highlights the relative rarity of a comedic couple with equally sharp chops sharing a stage.
Married stand-up comics touring together are not particularly common, leaving Kasher and Leggero in rare contemporary company. Former Chicagoan Cameron Esposito and her wife, Rhea Butcher, do it (they’ll be back in Chicago at the Vic in October), while Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally toured a variety show (“Summer of 69: No Apostrophe”) in 2015 that ended up on Epix as a comedy special earlier this year.
Leggero and Kasher are both accomplished comedians in their own right, and they benefit from having their styles juxtaposed against one another.
Leggero’s sensibilities lean dark, deadpan and ironic (“It’s hard being a man, right?” she inquired with faux earnestness before asking women to describe times they’d been confronted by men masturbating in public), while Kasher is a motormouth who aggressively revels in his own neuroses with big physical gestures and frequent audience interaction. “Oh, I’m sorry, are you guys uncomfortable with this story?” he demanded in the middle of recounting how his mom took him to a pornography store when he hit puberty. “These are my … memories!”).
Separately, their Sunday night sets were both solid, if not consistently laugh-out-loud funny.
The night started with a quick 12 minutes from opener Corinne Fisher, who talked about loving drugs before laying out all the things she hates, summing it up succinctly with, “The main thing is I don’t like fun.”
Leggero was the first of the headliners to go up, delivering 25 minutes including a bit that made fun of her hometown of Rockford, calling it “a great place to get mugged in the daytime.”
Kasher dedicated most of his 40-minute set to discussing his hang-ups, his childhood and his love for Leggero. “I’m in love. With her. And I like it,” he said unabashedly, laying out the sacrifices couples have to make for each other.
Kasher has a nervous energy that he frequently directs outward, interacting with the audience in a way that often pays off in rapid-fire rants. After asking an audience member in construction management if he’d ever catcalled a woman and being met with an immediate “Absolutely!” he launched into a lengthy and articulate discussion of catcalling that served as a lesson in empathy without being condescending or pretentious (both of which Kasher can frequently be).
But it was the final 30 minutes of the night — the relationship portion — that brought the show together and made it (mostly) work as a cohesive evening. Leggero’s straight-faced and subtle humor serves as a counterweight to Kasher’s sometimes hyperactive demeanor, the incisiveness of her one-liners effectively undercutting any overdone bit by him.
They make a good team.
And yet, it’s a show in progress. While the central conceit — funny married couple performs stand-up and then dispenses marriage advice — is effective, the show as a whole could use some tightening, or maybe just a different format. Last year Comedy Central put out a series of webisodes capturing the hipster-centric “Loveline”-esque part of the show where this sharp-witted couple disses and dishes with guest couples. The comfortable banter Leggero and Kasher exchanged — and at the couples who braved the stage — makes for engaging content.
Let’s see it, TV studios/streaming services. What’s the worst that could happen?
Zach Freeman is a freelance writer.