Tampa fans at Straz Center love Iliza Shlesinger, even when they talk through her show

Also, we thought the R-word wasn't funny anymore?

click to enlarge Tampa fans at Straz Center love Iliza Shlesinger, even when they talk through her show

IIliza Shlesinger brought her unlimited energy to Friday night’s sold-out crowd at the Straz’s Morsani Hall. She was the first comedian I’ve seen in awhile who got a standing ovation at the beginning of their set as well as the end.

Superfans were present, wearing homemade “Party Goblin” shirts or merch they purchased prior to showtime. The “Last Comic Standing” winner is good at being relatable and seemingly approachable, and her fans love her. 

L.A. comedian Hunter Hill opened the show, a possible surprise to some. 

“I’m like the pickle that comes with your sandwich. I hope you like pickles,” he joked, warming up the crowd. 

His set touched on his new marriage and his weight. He claimed to be fat, which was definitely more of a measurement in Hollywood’s standards, because he seemed to have just a couple french fries more than a dad bod.

His comedy was Mike Birbiglia-esque, in the feel of almost a one-man show rather than traditional stand up. It was equally as emotional as it was funny. I cried when he discussed him and his family, including pets being rescued during a mudslide in Montecito, California. I cried, not from laughter, just straight up cried. 

Soon, he was done and the opening Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart” blared as Iliza and her high pony bounced out in a tour tee shirt and jeggings. The crowd settled, and she got into it.

Shlesinger talked about not enjoying her honeymoon, a sort-of follow up to her fifth Netflix special “Unveiled.”  She related to the 30-something crowd by talking marriage, pregnancy and babies-though she confirmed she has not been or is not currently pregnant. 

Her impression of a baby giraffe being born showed her impressive physicality, and her struggle to breathe afterwards showed her relatability. 

Next to me a seemingly new couple, even possibly on their first date, started moving on to the getting to know you section of their evening. Literally, for the whole goddamn show. After a bit, they’d either repeat what she said, or tell a story about how it related to their life. At one point, Shlesinger joked about how someone didn’t know she’s Jewish because they hoped her recently deceased pet was with Jesus.

“She better not be,” Shlesinger shouted. 

“Oh, she’s going to hit some soft subjects tonight!” the guy loudly replied to his date.

The same couple, though, seemed to enjoy the two times Shlesinger said the R-word, which I thought was put to rest years ago. (Let this be put on the record, once again, the R-word is not cool y’all.)

She has relatable subjects like loving Target, and bingeing the latest Netflix show. There was no political talk, no super controversial subjects. Or there might have been—I was losing focus thanks to my neighbors.

(Side rant: I don’t know who needs to hear this-except for the couple next to me-but don’t fucking talk in shows. Don’t talk in comedy shows. Don’t talk in music shows. Don’t talk in plays. While we’re at it, don’t talk in movies. The occasional clarifying question is fine. But constant chitchat through an entire performance should be subject to public shaming. In smaller comedy clubs, it usually is. Try having a conversation at the Improv or Side Splitters—you’ll get kicked out, usually after the comedian berates you.)

Schlesinger was enjoyable. She was physical and did great improvised bits while engaging the audience. She is a comedian and good at her job. There is nothing groundbreaking about it, but people love it. I liked it, I had a good time. I prefer a little more edge, but edge doesn’t always sell out shows. People freaking love her, even if they talk through her show. 

Follow @cl_tampabay on Twitter to get the most up-to-date news + views. Subscribe to our newsletter, too.

About The Author

Stephanie Powers

Freelance contributor Stephanie Powers started her media career as an Editorial Assistant long ago when the Tampa Bay Times was still called the St. Petersburg Times. After stints in Chicago and Los Angeles, where she studied improvisation at Second City Hollywood, she came back to Tampa and stayed put.She soon...
Scroll to read more Local Arts articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.