Review: Comedy at The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage with Gary Vider and Sara Armour

Now in its 21st year, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage is the Center’s gift to everyone in the Washington area, offering live entertainment at no cost every single day.

It’s also a great way to introduce kids to the wonder of theatrical events. All the shows are limited to one hour. And all the seating is open to the public, first-come, first-served.

Comedy works especially well in this format, and Gary Vider—an up-and-coming stand-up comedian who played the Millenium last night—is perfect for this kind of setting.

Of course, as Vider pointed out, one advantage of the Millennium Stage—which is basically in the Kennedy Center’s lobby—is that, being free, it encourages low expectations.

Parts of the show were old-fashioned “shtick”—Borscht Belt era lines about marriage (think of Henny Youngman and his joke ending, ‘That was no lady, that was my wife’)—while others were refreshingly new.

Being short, Vider had a lot of jokes about size. My favorite was his description of Starbuck’s “Small Americano” as the perfect drink for short people.

Of course, there was an abundance of jokes about bodily functions—a hit since ancient times—plus the usual bits about sex, which the younger members of the audience particularly enjoyed.

Some topics bombed—one about adopted children drew an appalling silence—but most were redeemed by an admission of guilt or an unexpected come-back.

One of the funniest bits came after a particularly bad joke, when the comic, ending the deadly silence, chirped a single word.

 ‘Travis?’ he asked, referring to an earlier joke about gay men at a health club. Then he raised his hand and offered a come-on wave. The audience erupted in laughter. People were still repeating the line and laughing, even after the show had ended!

Vider has been doing stand-up for just three years, and it shows. The act, as it stands, is uneven. Some improv—involving members of the audience—might have helped, as would having more material to cover the weak spots.

On balance, however, the performance was just the right thing for a chilly night in the middle of the holiday season.  Tune in for Vider’s next appearance, which is slated for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in early 2018.

Opening the show—and demonstrating that a shorter gig is often easier to pull off—was Sara Armour.

A New York-based comedian who tours nationally with a group called The Betches of Comedy, she had the audience howling with laughter as she romped through 10 minutes of riffs on everything from the spelling of her name—Sara with no “H,” or “generic Sarah, the kind you get at CVS”—to her dental history and her mother’s best friend Karen’s dog.

Zeroing in on an audience packed with families, Armour delivered a raft of jokes about parental relationships. Everyone—grownups and kids—loved  it.

Running time: 60 minutes.

Gary Vider performed one time only on December 28, 2017 at The Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage – 2700 F Street, in Washington, DC. For upcoming events, go to their performance calendar.