You wouldn't be wrong to group Todd Barry in with so-called alternative comedians like Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, and Zach Galifianakis. In a market dominated by blue collars, gimmicks, and ventriloquist stars, Barry's style, like hipster icon Oswalt's, can seem almost defiantly erudite. But that's all relative. Barry, known for his low-key demeanor and sarcasm-drenched routines, does what a good comic should do: mine both social folly and personal psychosis for substantial laughs. He's resistant to the alt-comic label and notes that a lot of writers have asked him specifically about playing rock venues. Barry knows a thing or two about that; he's served as Yo La Tengo's opener. Barry has also played the late-night talk-show circuit from Letterman to Conan to Kimmel, lent his voice to offbeat cartoons like Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and jams on bongos on Flight of the Conchords. His most recent film role is his most high-profile project to date: He co-starred in The Wrestler as Mickey Rourke's asshole boss at the grocery store deli. "I know Darren Aronofsky. He used to come to comedy shows," Barry says. "I certainly knew that this film would get attention, but I didn't anticipate what ended up." Barry notes that even though it was a heavy film, he was there for some levity. "I kind of set off some of the drama. I've gotten some emails from people saying, 'You were the funniest thing in that movie.' I hope so." 18+.
Mon., May 18, 8 p.m., 2009
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