As a child growing up in western Wisconsin, Tim Harmston was taught to avoid tooting his own horn. It's a lesson he has learned almost too well. Case in point: He describes his recent breakout performance on The Late Show with David Letterman as a great opportunity to "push myself harder." Fortunately for the rest of the country, Harmston's unassuming excellence has inspired a growing chorus of comedy fans and insiders to start doing the tooting for him. It's easy to see why. His comedy has a unique richness that defies easy labeling. Harmston's an experienced filmmaker, and his cinematic worldview, natural affinity for character-based humor, and kooky intellectualism (which appeals to intellectuals and kooks in equal measure), add depth to his comedy well beyond what is standard fare even among the elite who can say they've done Letterman. While his jokes are packed with absurd elements, they never succumb to the punchless, indulgent atrophy of pure absurdism. To top it all off, he brings a visceral, contagious goofiness to the stage that is genuinely welcoming. "I never want to hurt anyone onstage," he says, which is different from saying that nobody's affectations will get skewered. This week of shows will also be a celebration of the release of his first album, The Most Bees Ever. So pick up a horn and start tooting. 18+.
Sept. 6-10, 8 p.m.; Sept. 9-10, 10:30 p.m., 2011