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John Hodgman Took UP Comedy Club to "Vactionland"

Saturday, October 25, 2014 Cora

John Hodgman tried out new material in “Vacationland” Tuesday night at Second City’s UP Comedy Club.

He had two shows that night, “I Stole Your Dad” and “Vacationland”. What was really nice was he came out between shows and signed books, posters, took pictures so people wouldn’t have to wait until after the second show. He announced if anyone wanted something signed, they could do that now, but if anyone wanted to get a drink with him, they’d have to wait until after the last show. He talked with people when they were at the table, making eye contact. After the second show, he signed books and took more pictures with fans. His fans are very loyal and engaged. I sat with a couple and a young woman who saw him the last time he was in Chicago. They were staunch listeners of his podcasts, read his books, and followed his Twitter feed. I think I was the only newbie; everyone seemed to be well versed in Hodgman. He is very accessible and approachable. He posts his podcast weekly, tweets, responds to and favorites tweets.
After introducing the show, saying he was an employee of the comedy club, Hodgman burst onstage and struck a power pose (arms straight up) and told us to join him. We did. These shows have been different for him in that he has been himself; he has not been playing a character. He told stories, drink in hand, as comfortable onstage as if he held our attention at a cocktail party. He reminded me of Garrison Keillor, but with the sardonic zest of David Sedaris. All these storytellers convey everyday events, pointing out how unique and telling they are about an individual, and when given the chance, they hope you laugh. Hodgman laughed about himself. As described on the website, the show was about death and summertime. There was one obvious story about death, a curtsy, a slight foray into the topic, but he discussed death on many other levels: death of identity, youth in many ways, death of fears, realizing they were in someone else’s head then gifted to you. He poked fun at his neuroses. He likes rules, but found out it’s okay to go beyond them. “Because apparently life is about living,” Hodgman said.
A majority of the show discussed the irony of Maine calling itself “vacationland.” “Maine,” he said. “Where we put the ‘spite” in ‘hospitality.’” He joked about his class change, never really feeling like he fit in with the money, these people so comfortable in their own skin even though he went to Yale to which many of us can relate. He also joked and owned the fact some things in his life are not very relatable like owing two summer houses. Owning it made him more human and endearing. Even though he’s a Daily Show regular, podcaster, author, and performer, he’s still a former literary agent/ writer who went for it and made it happen.

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