MANSFIELD — When musicians play the Xfinity Center, they usually just pretend they’re in the city, calling out, “How you feeling, Boston?” to make the crowd roar.
But when comedians take the stage here, they can’t resist making fun of the exurban setting.
“It’s nice to be home,” said Louis C.K., headliner of the Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival, who grew up in Newton. “Well, I’m not home. I’m not from [expletive] Mansfield. Nobody is.”
Despite its name, the festival wasn’t all that oddball, at least not on the main stage. But it was highly entertaining, with an impressive lineup of hilarious, sex-obsessed comedians who manage to make you laugh and think at the same time.
There were several strong opening sets, including one by Hannibal Buress, who wore a jumpsuit with his picture on it and brought out ballerinas to twirl behind him as he rapped. Buress was thrilled with the results of his recent Lasik surgery: “Now I can see that, sir,” he said, gesturing to an audience member, “that you’re a piece of [expletive].”
The show kicked into high gear when Sarah Silverman took the stage. She covered a lot of cringe-worthy territory in her 20 minutes — rape, domestic abuse, abortion — and demonstrated a remarkable ability to nimbly skewer both sides of an issue. She quickly corrected herself after referring to NRA people as NPR people — “totally different tote bags” — and noted that she supports a woman’s right to choose as well as protesters’ right to free speech: “What’s my point? Oh yeah, I’m great.”
Dave Attell raced disjointedly from joke to joke, assessing his performance as he went: “I’m the worst comic on this show, guys, I apologize.” But he wasn’t, in part because of his racist friend who wanted to be a fireman because “everybody is the same color when they’re on fire.”
Amy Schumer, who also came out in a jumpsuit with her picture on it, focused mostly on society’s obsession with thin women. In New York, she said, she can read for the part of the cute girl whom no one notices because she wears khakis. But in Los Angeles, casting directors ask, “You’re reading for the girl getting the gastric bypass?” Beauty pageant contestants are “tan cadavers,” and the winner “is just the one who doesn’t shout the N word.”
Like Silverman, Schumer worked from notes, and their twisted brand of feminism was arguably the sharpest material of the night.
When Louis C.K. walked onstage around 10 p.m., the crowd leapt to its feet. “Why do babies cry on planes?” he asked. “I looked it up, and it turns out there is a reason. It’s because they’re upset about gay people getting married.”
Louis is an incredibly smart comic, able to put socially relevant topics in a ridiculous, inappropriate context that somehow provides a clear-eyed commentary on human nature, delivered with a shy, humble smile that makes him irresistible.
“When I’m on the street and see a gay couple or a lesbian couple, I have no reaction,” he said. “But then I get mad that they don’t notice.”Katie Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.