President Trump, Hillary Clinton, sexual harassment, political correctness, and everyday life were the main targets in a feel-good offensive at Comics Come Home 23 Saturday night at the TD Garden.
The night featured some old favorites and new faces, and a surprise jam with host Denis Leary, Jimmy Fallon, and guest musician John Mayer.
Leary took shots in his opening number, a parody of Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes” that referenced Trump “blaming fake news” and refilling the swamp, as well as Clinton’s deleted e-mails.
In his opening monologue, Leary said the show featured “the only eight men left in Hollywood who haven’t been accused of sexual harassment.” Leary also criticized powerful men in high-profile sexual assault cases, including Louis C.K., who has appeared at Comics Come Home in the past.
Leary called what C.K. did “a creepy weird [expletive] thing,” but had trouble making sense of the fact that he knew two people who were accused.
“I love Louie,” he said. “I’m not going to stop being the guy’s friend, but we’re going to have to have a long conversation.” The upside for Leary? “I’m a [expletive] saint next to these guys.”
Of the new faces, Needham native Jared Freid acquitted himself well with a set based around relationship humor.
“Get Out” star Lil Rel Howery’s laughter was infectious. One of his better lines was the low-rent absurdities of traveling by Greyhound. “I saw a guy ironing his suit with his hand in the rest stop,” he said. “You know how hot your breath has to be to iron your suit with your hand?”
The real revelation was Mo Amer, a last-minute addition when Craig Ferguson dropped out. He took the most chances of anyone on the bill, drawing on his background as an immigrant and refugee from Kuwait. That was something he was happy to tell Eric Trump when he got upgraded to a seat next to the president’s son on an airplane. “Too late, bitch!” he said. “I made it!” He also said he told the younger Trump: “You tell your dad to build all the walls he wants. My family flew in. There’s lots of options.”
There were plenty of Comics Come Home veterans on the bill, including Juston McKinney (also a late addition), Jeff Ross, Robert Kelly, and crowd favorite Lenny Clarke.
Ross, whose nickname is “Roastmaster General,” mentioned he had roasted Trump twice and expected to get a call for a Cabinet position. “I need three insults about North Korea by tomorrow,” he imagined Trump saying, “You’re the new secretary of offense.” Ross speed-roasted a few volunteers who came onstage and though his barbs were a bit pointed, no one seemed to take offense.
Clarke’s intro got some of the biggest cheers of the night. He spent most of his set riffing on Boston traffic, but addressed his colorful past. “I used to travel with drug dealers,” he said. “Now I travel with doctors. I wanna live, just to piss people off.” His set turned surprisingly sentimental at the end with a tribute to his wife, Jen, a cancer survivor who was helped by the Neely House. (Neely House is part of The Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care, founded by the former Bruins star, which is the charity that Comics Come Home benefits.)
There were a couple of pedestrian bits about henpecked men in relationships, stuff that feels increasingly dated, but overall it was a fairly even and upbeat evening with none of the contentiousness of last year’s event.
Fallon’s set was short, but it did include one great line. “I love how you guys have the Aquarium between the Harbor and a Legal Sea Foods,” he said, imagining addressing the fish. “Don’t forget, guys, life could be a lot better, but it could be a lot worse.” The rest of his time was a lip synch battle with Leary, as each tried to out-pander the audience.
Fallon lip synched House of Pain’s “Jump Around” in an Irish flag hoodie, but Leary took the belt by lip synching Queen’s “We Are the Champions” while footage of the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins played on the video screens.
Then the mikes went live again and, at Leary’s signal, the band kicked into Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” which Fallon and Leary sang together, introducing John Mayer at the guitar solo. That served as the final bows, as every comedian came back out onstage. But Fallon kept singing, even as the rest of the comics were milling about and tossing T-shirts into the crowd. He took the song home and signed off at the end: “See you at Dunkin’s.”
COMICS COME HOME 23
With Denis Leary, Jimmy Fallon, Lenny Clarke, Juston McKinney, Jeff Ross, Robert Kelly, Lil Rel Howery, Mo Amer, and Jared Freid.
At TD Garden, Nov. 18.Nick A. Zaino III can be reached at email@example.com.