A HAZY SHADE OF WIENERS
Middleditch, proving someone does buy those American Apparel shorts.
Like Barack Obama, comedian Thomas Middleditch cut his professional teeth in Chicago, where he performed at Second City and iO. Unlike Obama, Middleditch is not running for President, perhaps owing to his being Canadian. It's unfortunate; his penchant for caricature would make the debates a helluva lot more entertaining.
At least we can see him on a smaller stage, rolling out an absurd cast of colorful characters. The lanky comic gains momentum with each skit, showcasing expertly mimicked personages. In one of the longer pieces, the versatile comedian plays all seven characters in a murder mystery; it is both brilliant and exhausting to watch. One, "Francois" is distinguished only by his Maurice Chevalier accent and De Gaulle-style finger-mustache. Predictably, Middleditch the French swine insults Middleditch the wide-eyed American; a one-man melee ensues. And when, at last, the true murderer is revealed, you'll kick yourself for not sussing out the culprit.
Afterward, he upgrades his finger-mustache for a more substantial one, emerging as Daniel Plainview, the main character of There Will Be Blood. As Plainview reenacts a scene from Pulp Fiction (he is Jules, obviously) with a member of the audience, the laughs roll (almost despite yourself). He deadpans, in his oil prospector's drawl, "English, motherfucker; do you speak it?" Simple, but effective.
Less exciting is the character with which Middleditch opens and closes: a ten-year-old boy doing stand-up. Unfortunately, just because the kid is meant to be annoying doesn't really make him any less so. It's kind of surprising to see such a dud among the other gems, but it's useful to remember that, in comedy as in politics, weak areas can be glossed over with a healthy dollop of charisma.