Friday: Iliza Shlesinger @ Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle

About a month before Iliza Shlesinger was set to record her third hour-long TV special, she took the Comedy Castle’s stage in ill-fitting jeans (which were appropriately incorporated into jokes throughout the set) and a yellow t-shirt with an orange outline of Michigan.

Opening with a lively and personal set about the mitten state, Shlesinger set the tone for her animated, aggressive and always witty live show: comparing a class of children raising their mittens to show where they’re from to Hitler’s salute and making it clear to the crowd that no one besides Michiganders know about the Upper Peninsula. “I thought this was a cloud,” she said pointing the the U.P. on her shirt.

The #PartyGoblin segment from “Freezing Hot” returned in her new material with a killer expansion into the hangover stage, waking up with cushion scars and how party goblins strike when they hear, “I’m only have one drink.” The “Last Comic Standing” winner also found continued strength in her male / female dynamic commentary. She took the crowd through a recent break-up, as well as mulling over the absurdity of women being able to give birth with just “grit,” yet on any other day she can’t do 20 push-ups.

Of the show’s highlights, Shlesinger’s uncanny ability to convey what she refers to as “white girl crazy” was in full effect as she narrated the time she dumped out an entire purse on a dancefloor looking for a lip liner, ignoring the fact that she wasn’t currently wearing any, and eventually terrifying the bouncer out of her face.

Shlesinger was loud, she was brash, she was honest; and as per usual, her comedic timing and ability to deliver a punchline were as strong as ever.

Saturday: Anjelah Johnson @ The Royal Oak Music Theater

Anjelah Johnson gave fans the show they wanted — she did her staple nail salon joke, kept “Not Fancy” ’s “I would be a bad police officer” bit, offered up some Bon Qui Qui “ghetto fabulousness” and brought in plenty of fresh material.

The show started with Bon Qui Qui coming over the speaker system to let everyone know all the rules. Then, after an opening set from Rahn Hortman, Johnson took the stage to raucous cheers from the the theater.

Similar to Shlesinger, Johnson also opened the show with a Michigan-centric bit. Starting with some obligatory weather commentary, the show really got started as she detailed her time thus far in Detroit / Royal Oak. The expectation of crossing from Detroit to Royal Oak and seeing a stark change in scenery is far from reality, she said. “Yeah, you classy, Royal Oak,” she teased as she told the crowd about a man she saw walking down the street with a pair of socks in his mouth by a local BBQ restaurant.

Newer material included an hilarious bit on impulse-buying a first home with her husband. Between her not-so-handy husband, her mom-less, landlord-less reality and a possible intruder, Johnson finds some of her strongest material in her new set.

Acknowledging that she’s getting older, yet is still a “full-grown child,” Johnson stuck to some of her earliest material and comedically piled her newest, boldest material on top. Saturday’s performance showcased Johnson’s talent, past, present and future, all of which is extremely bright — and more importantly, hilarious. 

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