Five thoughts: T.J. MIller at the Mirage (June 24)

Comedian and actor T.J. Miller performs at the Mirage, June 24, 2017.
Wade Vandervort
Jason Harris

1. As if there was any question as to what type of show he would give, within minutes of walking onstage, the wacky T.J. Miller opened a bottle of water and poured it on his face . At another point, he poured a bottle of water over his head. Sporadically throughout the show, he used a spray can of water to cool himself down that way. For much of the performance, he looked like he'd wet his pants. Who’s to say it wasn’t all just a ruse, so he actually could?

2. Miller, 36, is absurd. His best material is so out there, there is no way that the entire audience can follow along with it. Those who did laugh, laughed hard (myself included). His bit about George Washington Carver being his favorite historical figure, because he discovered peanut butter, led him to wonder aloud: If anyone in the audience had made such a momentous discovery, “Would you keep peanut butter a secret for just a week?” Act-outs of Carver at a party, mouth glued shut by peanut butter, had him asking the hosts for celery and raisins without explaining why. Though she knew he was hiding something, his wife would yell to him, “Would you like me to bring out the jelly sandwiches?” When he eventually revealed his discovery to her and she tried it, “He f*cks her who like a guy who just invented peanut butter.”

3. The man who just ended his run as the eccentric Erlich Bachman on HBO’s Silicon Valley also brought up his passion project, The Gorburger Show—a talk show hosted by a giant costumed creature voiced by Miller—and was clearly disappointed at the tepid response the latter show received from the audience. Veering into performance art, he brought out Gorburger co-stars Tokyo Fever. Whenever he said “Tokyo Fever,” the two women repeated the phrase while making a hand gesture of holding up a gun. Wading into the crowd, Miller asked people to say “Tokyo Fever,” encouraging the women to respond in kind. But then Miller got to one guy who he'd pegged as a loser—and when the guy said “Tokyo Fever,” the women stood still without acknowledging him.

4. Miller has a take-no-prisoners attitude with hecklers. It's often hilarious and extremely confrontational. When he asked some dude in the crowd a question and a woman blurted out a response, he fired back, “Suddenly a girl starts talking. Isn’t that how all elections are lost?”

5. The improvised electricity of the show peaked about 45 minutes in, and then things went downhill fast. Maybe it was that he ran out of steam—or other substances. Maybe the crowd just couldn’t handle the start-and-stop nature of Miller's bits. Maybe they were upset about how cutthroat the performer was. Maybe they wanted something more traditional. Whatever the case, when the momentum ceased, there was a real crash-and-burn feel to the evening. But then again, maybe that’s what T.J. Miller wanted.

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