Todd Barry tonight at the Varsity


Todd Barry has one hell of a shtick working. We're always uplifted by the bald, the slight, the droll, the deadpan among us who strike it rich. We're a band of miserable misanthropes here at Gimme Noise, and in Barry, we find our shining pundit of head-slapping, repulsed disbelief. You wouldn't think it on a quick listen, but by the end of a Todd Barry set, one can really see Barry's winking contempt for his audience shining through.

Barry on O'Brien.

The act would never work if he wasn't funny. It's been a steady ascent from bars to Adult Swim shows to headlining tours at places like the Varsity and it's well earned. Sure, he has the facade of the depressive, sedated, weary funnyman, who is putting one foot in front of the other in a drudgerous march through a hostile world.

But his observational eye, and his sense of comedic timing (or, in this post-Kaufman, post-Hedberg age, it might be best to call it "anti-timing") make every gag a darkly hilarious affair. As is required of any comedian looking to make it big in this jaded era, no target is safe from Barry, and yet he has just enough of Cosby's tact in him that his blows are never knockout haymakers.

For those unfamiliar, a trip to Cheapo to pick up 2004's Falling Off the Bone will be a quick, easy way to decide for yourself if you're into it. It's a model of his form-- deadpan, fraught with long pauses, full of incisive rejoinders with the crowd.

His comedy is good for the world, even if it means Barry must be miserable himself-- he's a man brave enough to find laughs in his own profound alienation.

18+. 8:00 P.M. $13.00. With Tommy Ryman. Varsity Theater, 1308 4th Street SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222.