Craig Robinson’s three-night stand at Virginia Beach’s Funny Bone was full of hilarity and harmony. That’s harmony, dammit!
The first thing you should know about a Craig Robinson show is that when he tells you to sing, you sing. The second thing you should know is that when he tells you to sing, you sing in harmony. Harmony, he said, harmony.
This past weekend, comedian and musician Craig Robinson made a stop at Virginia Beach’s Funny Bone Comedy Club for a three-night engagement, with two shows on Friday and Saturday. He not only did stand-up throughout the evening, but frequently serenaded us with his magical keyboard. And eventually, we all got the harmony, right, dammit.
Robinson is undeniably best known for his role as Warehouse Foreman Darryl Phillbin on NBC’s long-running and popular sitcom, The Office — an American remake of the British series of the same name by Ricky Gervais. Other roles he is known for include Nick Webber-Agnew in Hot Tub Time Machine, and most recently, Andy Samberg’s problematic BFF, Doug Judy (aka the Pontiac Bandit), on previously-Fox’s, now-NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
The evening at the Funny Bone started off with three openers, one of which was local comedian and radio DJ Kristen Sivills. When it was finally time for Robinson to make his entrance, it was to booming cheers of “Dunder Mifflin!,” “Darryl!,” and my personal favorite, “Doug Judy!”
Robinson opened his show with a new rendition of “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” after which he sang some advice to the men in the audience: “Don’t be a gentleman, and then an asshole. Chivalry ain’t dead.” This was followed by what became a running gag for the evening, a note about how any song is made better by just casually throwing in the line, “And take your panties off.”
I mean, he isn’t wrong. “Just be careful not to sing it in church on Sunday,” he advised.
His stand-up bits were woven intermittently through the music, covering various topics such as how marriage isn’t fair for men — he noted how men don’t get their own song to walk down the aisle to, and then laughed when someone mistook his performance of “Here Comes the Bride” for Chopin’s “Funeral March.”
Other topics of discussion included what fun things he can do in Virginia Beach — which led to him bringing up a question I’m still pondering: why is the water brown? — and Chicago.
The sea of Dunder-Mifflin shirts in the audience was hard to ignore, and even Robinson could not ignore them for too long, as fans continued to chant for his popular characters, Darryl Philbin and Doug Judy.
“Who the hell is Darryl? What is a Dunder-Mifflin?” he laughed as he threw back a cocktail. He then set his drink down on the stool beside him and went into back-to-back performances of The Office’s classic theme song, The Dunder-Mifflin Commercial Song , and the song that Doug Judy sings to Rosa in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Despite jokingly pretending at first not to know his most famous characters, Robinson is the kind of hard-working comedian who knows why he is famous, and could not be more appreciative. He performed songs from his most famous roles with a big smile on his face.
Of course, when you are well known for playing cult-favorite characters, it can be very easy to overdo it, and let a live show become nothing but fan-service. Doing so may satiate the crowd for awhile, but it will ultimately lead to a lackluster, empty show.
Fortunately, this was by no means Robinson’s approach. He showed that he knows how to eloquently dip his hand into the fan-service pool and still come back up and control the crowd. He’s damn good at giving the people not only what they want, but more importantly what they need, and it shows.
“I said harmony, dammit!” Robinson commanded jokingly, as we all sang together horribly off key during “Jessie’s Girl,” a song he’d memorably performed in Hot Tub Time Machine.
Robinson’s stage performance is the perfect blend of crowd work-based stand-up and a fun musical environment that felt like your best friend DJing your birthday party. When he played music, the songs he chose were catchy and fun and easy to sing along to, but that was the point. Robinson is known for playing roles in ensemble casts filled with otherwise-awkward people doing the best they can. When he took the spotlight for his own show, he did the same thing, in all the best ways.
Everyone in attendance, meanwhile, was both awkward and giddy. And while our harmony was horrible when we finally did get it together, we still had a blast. For an hour and change, it genuinely did feel like maybe we were at Dunder-Mifflin.
Robinson is closed the show with an awesome freestyle remix of various popular songs, such as Beyonce’s “Halo” and Prince’s “Purple Rain,” encouraging audience members to sing with him. And most importantly, he took a moment to sincerely thank the audience for having his back and supporting his career.
If you want to see a show that is fun, hilarious, and makes you feel like you’re hanging out in your best friend’s living room singing along to the karaoke station, this is what you need. There are not nearly as many people out there that are both as humble and as talented as Robinson. The next time he comes through your side of the office, drop what you’re doing and go. It will be exactly what you hope for, and more.
Top photo via mrcraigrobinson.com
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