By Molly Bergen – LAist – April 26th, 2009

      It is no surprise that Jon Brion did not ask for any requests last Tuesday evening. The last time he did that to warm up the crowd for Greg Proops, some wise acre asked for Free Bird. It does not matter that Brion rose to the challenge and melted our faces off with, get this, a piano solo, what matters is that Brion was not going to allow the audience to choose his song again. To be honest, I don’t know what he was thinking the first time. Who does he think attends the Greg Proops Chat show, if not smart ass goobers? (For anyone who is offended by that, know that I include myself in this category.) So instead he chose the safe course and sat down at the piano without so much as a glance at the audience, and promptly stunned us all into awed silence with his playing. It must be very handy being able to do that on command. I would even possibly qualify it as a minor superpower. Nothing as flashy as moving objects with your mind, but still very impressive.

      I suspect Greg Proops has chosen Jon Brion because of this super power. He has Brion blow our minds because then have our brains ready and receptive for comedy. It’s like washing a chalkboard. All the annoyances and calculations of the day have been wiped clean by the majesty we just listened to and now we don’t have a care in the world except for what Proops is going to say next. It’s a theory.

      Proops was on form as usual regaling us with his disdain for all things weather related, including as was topical, the desert. This was followed by his disgust for festivals that are found there, namely Burning Man and Coachella. Not because of the bands that were playing or the price of tickets, but because of the middle aged men or “silver backs” who attend in their “crocs and shorts” to hit on women half their age. Or in the case of Burning Man he described his loathing for people who substitute accessories for reading and original thought. The example he gave was when his friend described a man who owned a snake as interesting, to which Proops remarked, “I believe the snake is doing most of the heavy lifting in that relationship.”

      The first guest of the evening was the very funny Greg Behrendt who reminisced with Proops about their wasted college years. Apparently too little drugs were done, too much studying attempted, and the few classes that were attended were a waste of time. Even though, Behrendt claimed to have been in school for eight years…getting his bachelors. Self deprecating humor is always appreciated, and Behrendt was full of it. Whether it was his self comparison to Josh Homme, “He’s so handsome. I look at him and think, ‘I’m a beagle.'” Or his new instrumental ska band with five fans, the man had no qualms about mocking his accomplishments, which was quite charming.

      Up next was a surprise guest, Rhys Darby, best known for his role as Murray on Flight of the Conchords. He really shouldn’t have bothered. The Kiwi sat down awkwardly and attempted polite conversation in which long stretches of silence ensued. Great chasms of nothingness seemed to yawn before us and I swear to God, tumbleweed made the long trek from the desert just to appear on stage just to drift by. It got so bad that Darby attempted to leave twice. My friend later informed me that this agonizing awkwardness was part of Darby’s shtick. I had no idea one could be inarticulate and a comedian. I mean the man spent the entire time answering Proops’ questions with one word answers. “Yes,” “no,” and “possums” were the most frequent ones. Now I am no expert having never been to New Zealand, but surely sitting quietly, grinning, and speaking when you’re spoken to does not pass for humor over there.

      After what felt like light years, lead singer of Queens of the Stone Age and local babe-magnet, Josh Homme took the stage. Where upon the audience sat up and stretched like Sleeping Beauty to listen to Homme and Proops varying opinions on a range of topics from the strength of modern weed, to the majesty of Stevie Nicks, to the hilarious sideshow that is the Pussycat Dolls. There is something magical about watching a giant rockstar become human before your very eyes. When Homme first walked on stage, you could almost hear the gasp of delight from the audience. Although we all knew he was slated to show up, there were still parts of our brains telling us, “He’s going to cancel. He’s got better things to do like snort drugs, screw socialites, record a new album, and hang out with his kids (Not simultaneously) But his day his full.” But no, there on stage, Josh Homme under Proops’ wit went from Rock STAR to lovely man on a stool. I’m not quite sure how it happens. I believe its because Proops manages to keep his guests in check most of the time. They may be international sensations for the rest of the time, but on that stage they are guests of Mr. Greg Proops and are rendered helpless with giggles just like the rest of us.

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