I don't know what I was expecting from Portlandia: The Tour in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
I walked into the Music Hall of Williamsburg and was immediately hit by the unmistakable cigarette-sweat-bubble gum stench of an all-white Billyburg indie crowd of corporate nightcrawlers. The kind who can score tickets to a Portlandia show in the heart of hipsterdom, the very target of the hilarious Independent Film Channel show's satire.
One of my favorite shows on TV, I wasn't quite sure how it would translate to the stage, but its creators, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, were so embarrassingly unconcerned with anything resembling a well-crafted act that from the moment it began, I saw clearly that the schtick doesn't work in real time.
The evening started with a marginally-funny clip about the 1890s that had the forced, slightly-amusing feel of many of Portlandia's worst second-season bits.
People start their own businesses and cure their own meats, droned the clip, which was based on the duo's classic 1990s nostalgia sketch. It's the dream of the 1890s.
Then, Adam Horowitz, of Beastie Boys fame, joined the duo on stage to offer weak shout-outs and tone-deaf jokes about his washed-up life as part of New York's one percent. The remainder of the night seemed like little more than a dress rehearsal interspersed with weak, canned banter and tepid musical interludes.
The night's most revealing feature--which took up nearly a third of the evening--was a PowerPoint tour through snapshots Armisen and Brownstein found on each other's computers.
We do a slide-show of photos from each other's lives, Armisen announced.
From a shot of Armisen in an anti-Nazi tee to childhood pics of Brownstein, it was a strikingly personal look at two people who have so deftly embodied the range of crazed characters that make up Portland's hipsterati.
Following that, the pair did a reprisal of their roles as the proprietors of the Women and Women, Too feminist bookstore, bringing out Hugh Cornwell of the Stranglers to play a briny song that was probably the most entertaining three minutes of the night.
But then the Q&A kicked in, and as a seemingly-endless stream of flannel-decked men and their bespectacled women offered questions - like which of your characters would you like to stay as for the rest of your life? - the night began to wane.
The laughs and cheers came too easily, and though the show was kind of fun and engaging, I found myself drifting to thoughts of the hours still to come in the night, and started idly fingering my smartphone. As I typed Portlandia: The Tour: The Afterparty into Google, I realized I was playing right into Armisen and Brownstein's hands.
And maybe that was just what they were going for: a realization from the un-betrothed among us that just by being there, we were as bad off as anyone else.
It's hard to criticize the gag, when I find myself the butt of the joke.