Friday, August 5, 2011

Photos/Review/Videos: Wet Hot American Summer 10th Anniversary Celebration (Hosted by Stella)

Wet Hot American Summer 10th Anniversary Celebration - August 2, 2011
Photos/Videos: Josh Kesner / Review: Colin Fitzgerald & Chris

Colin’s thoughts:

With no idea what to expect, I hit up the Wet Hot American Summer 10th Anniversary Celebration with high expectations nonetheless. I knew it wouldn’t be a screening of the film, and that comedy troupe Stella would be hosting, but little else. The presence of Stella was both baffling and exciting to me. The three members of Stella were all vital components to WHAS, yet do not appear in the film as Stella. Director and Stella co-founder David Wain doesn’t even appear in the film at all. Being a massive Stella fan I was psyched to hear they were hosting, but was uncertain why they would chose to do it ‘in character.’ Although David Wain, Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter (the latter two being primary cast members) are addressed by name in Stella, they are definitely in character. As it turned out, this was a brilliant move.

The show itself was a hybrid of music, live sketches, hilarious stories, and video segments. Stella held it all together while simultaneously upping the irreverence (the current date was consistently referred to being in the 90’s, as if this were not a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the film, but rather the events of the film, which took place in the early 80’s). A live band, Joe McGinty & The Losers Lounge, started the show off with Jefferson Starship’s “Jane” which fans of the movie will recognize from the opening sequence. The band stayed on stage the entire time, often taking cues from the comedians, and chiming in with ridiculous rim-shots and musical allusions. Stella clearly enjoyed playing off the band and made for a very unique experience for fans of theirs.

The guests were endless and ranging from obscure (the kid who played the caped boy) to unexpected (Janeane Garofalo) to just plain awesome (Ken Marino and A.D. Miles). Many cast members who couldn’t attend, including Paul Rudd, Joe Lo Truglio (who I would have loved to see live), and Amy Poehler, submitted videos in character, filling in the crowd on what they’ve been up to. In one true WTF moment, the audience was shown an apparent audition tape from none-other-than Naomi Watts, reading for the part of Katie. Obviously prepared exclusively for the event, I couldn’t help but wonder how Naomi Watts got involved. It was hilarious anyway.

The highlight for me was Ken Marino. Other than the members of Stella, Ken is my favorite collaborator of the former sketch comedy troupe the State. Ken came out as his character from the film, complete with afro wig and jeans shorts, and sang a stunning rendition of “Dannie’s Song.” And when I say stunning, I mean he was fucking amazing. I had no clue Marino had such a golden voice, and when he led the crowd into the sing-a-long chorus, it was easy to forget this was a comedy event and not a folk concert (whose singer happens to be dressed like an 80’s guido). At the very end of the last chorus Ken suddenly looked startled and stared off into the balcony at nothing in particular and screamed “What the FUCK?!” before darting off stage. The whole night was a giant ‘what the fuck?’, in the best, most face-straining hilarious way possible. I am really glad I was there, as I doubt fans of the film and its stars will ever see another night like this. It was an uncompromisingly bizarre, highly energetic, and devastatingly funny once-in-a-lifetime experience. We can only hope this sequel talk comes to fruition, as these comedians were clearly born to collaborate.

Chris’s thoughts:

Marguerite Moreau (Katie) looked stunning, and made out with both Michael Ian Black and David Wain just to upset Showalter (Wain did a little more than make out with her actually).

The two kids they brought on stage towards the end of the show, the caped-boy and the kid who consoles Molly Shannon the entire movie, were interrupted by Judah Friedlander (who played Molly Shannon’s wife) who bum-rushed the stage, angry that the one kid stole his wife. Judah pulled the kid offstage and came back covered in blood. Amazing.

A.D. Miles (Gary) interviewed the can of vegetables (voiced by Jon Benjamin).

Ken Marino’s voice truly was golden.
Christopher Meloni really should’ve showed up. I think everyone was expecting that even though it’s a little far-fetched. I think he’s busy working on the new Superman film.

Michael Showalter as comedian Alan Shemper was ridiculously funny. I said before the show that Showalter should come out and do that routine, and was extremely happy that he did.

The Zak Orth bit seemed a little unrehearsed and wasn’t particularly funny. It was still good to see him there.

David Wain referred to Bradley Cooper as being extremely famous since becoming the Hangover.

Also kind of surprised Elizabeth Banks made no appearance of any kind. She’s pretty engrained in the Wain/Showalter pantheon (having starred in Wainy Days, Stella, the Baxter). She must’ve been busy.

Joe Lo Trulgio’s videotaped performance directly addressing the audience, but noting he was distracted by his off-screen 10-year old son who was trying to perform a skateboarding trick, was nothing short of hilarious. And, just as Colin leaned over to me and called it seconds into the video, led to his son performing the trick (off-screen of course), and exclaiming, “You’re doing it! I can’t believe you’re doing it!”

Check out a full set of photos from Tuesday's show, as well as two HD videos Josh shot during the show...


  1. Elizabeth Banks is in the Hunger Games movie, which was apparently filming Capitol scenes (i.e. scenes she would be in) at the time. Probably explains why she wasn't there.