Last week when Live Nation and Funny or Die announced the lineup for Oddball's fourth tour, it was a disappointment to say the least. The next tour will kick off at the end of August and return to Dallas' Gexa Energy Pavilion on Friday, September 23, with Dane Cook and Sebastian Maniscalco headlining. The show will also feature performances by Ali Wong, Bobby Lee, Iliza Shlesinger, Jermaine Fowler and Tom Segura. "Roastmaster General" Jeff Ross will host the festival's main show.
How low the hilarious have fallen. When Funny or Die's Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival launched in 2013, it became a legendary showcase of comedians before it even leapt out of the starting gate. The first year not only lined up a who's who of comedy with performers such as Kristen Schaal, Al Madrigal and Hannibal Buress, but it also brought the musical duo Flight of the Conchords and legendary recluse Dave Chappelle back to the stage.
Even Chappelle's strange set, which started really strong and veered off the road before slowly coming to a stop thanks to the merciful properties of friction, seemed to bode well for Oddball's future. The two tours that followed further cemented Oddball's status as a legendary comedy gathering, thanks to headliners who'd just become certified pop culture touchstones, such as Louie creator and star Louis C.K. in 2014 and Inside Amy Schumer's Amy Schumer in 2015.
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But Dane Cook as a headliner? Perhaps you're a fan of Employee of the Month, Good Luck Chuck or Disney's Planes. Or perhaps, like us, you think fame is about the only thing Cook has going for him. He doesn't seem to maintain the reputation Oddball has built since 2013 as a top-notch comedy festival capable of getting Mark Maron, Sarah Silverman and Louis C.K. all on the same bill.
It's true that Cook still has fans who enjoy watching his spastic spouting of punctuated observations as he paces from one side of the stage to the other (or around in a circle depending on the stage's shape). It's true that he still tours to sold out shows across the country. And he clearly works very hard to craft a solid set for the people who find him funny enough to pay to see him in person.
Maybe Cook will surprise cynics like us in September. However, we can think of a bunch of other comics who'd be better suited to Oddball. What about John Oliver, Tracy Morgan or Jim Jefferies, who recently released a brilliant special for Netflix called Freedumb? Sadly, those names aren't on the roster for the Dallas show, although they do make appearances at earlier stops on the Oddball tour.
Scheduling must be a tricky task for a touring show like Oddball, but if the festival wanted to continue topping the high bar it has set in just the last few years, the Dallas show's poster should have had at least one of those names at the top.