On Nov. 16 at the DoubleTree Suites Boston Cambridge Hotel, comedian Robert Klein performed a stand-up show as part of the annual Boston Comedy Festival, which is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. As audience members filed in and took their seats for the event, they mingled with friends and sipped on cocktails.
Before Klein took the stage, the opening act, Bethany Van Delft, warmed up the crowd, making jokes about having children, smoking marijuana, and performing in front of an audience largely made up of baby boomers. (Van Delft was much younger than the majority of people in the crowd.) The audience laughed particularly hard when Van Delft talked about “goat yoga,” and how people are better off driving up to a farm, finding a goat, and getting into the downward facing dog pose right then and there.
“I feel like the best material is what I’m living through at the moment and having strong feelings about, and then, in time, hopefully they become well-crafted jokes. I think that’s how I generate material, it’s whatever I’m thinking about right now or really living through, and then I try to write jokes from that,” Van Delft said in an interview after the show.
Klein came on stage immediately after Van Delft, starting his almost two [-]hour comedy set with a rendition of his song, “Colonoscopy.” The song was nominated for a Primetime Emmy, but lost, because, as Klein claimed, “[It] was rigged by the deep state.” “Colonoscopy” was just a preview of the many, many jokes about getting older Klein, 77, would share throughout the night. Making fun of the audience, Klein joked about how he was, in fact, the junior in the room. Klein also mentioned how he had not yet joined the AARP, but he had friends in the AARP in Florida who were getting a killer steak early bird special for $6.99 at 8:00 in the morning.
Klein also touched upon his long and extensive career, talking about the shows he performed on Broadway and his more than 100 appearances on “The Tonight Show” and “Late Show.” These days, rather than playing the leading man in movies, Klein takes the role of the father in numerous films. Recently, Klein played the Mayor of New York City in two of the “Sharknado” films, a part that was originally supposed to go to President Donald Trump.
Even though Klein is a comedian, he is also a musical performer, and he sang for a good portion of his show. Klein sang “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard and “Fallin’” from the Broadway musical, “They’re Playing Our Song,” which he starred in 1979. Klein additionally performed a few bits with a harmonica.
“[The show was] brilliant. I remember that Klein was a really smart comedian. I always thought he was really very brilliant, but I didn’t know or remember how talented he was, that he could sing, and then he did all that acting. Brilliant!” audience member Sharon Polk-Sadownik said.
“We feel as if it’s our best year yet,” Dean Dimarzio, Boston Comedy Festival organizer, said of the weekend. “We had some spectacular comedians, comedians that have been around for years and up-and-coming comedians — comedians such as Robert Klein, Emo Phillips, and Dana Gould. We feel we have one of the best comedy festivals in the world, never mind the country.”