Review: 'Bob’s Burgers Live!'

The star-studded comedy cast of the animated show filled the Crystal with one-liners and witty retorts to Portland’s freakish questions. Portlanders, however, could learn some manners.

By Robert Ham May 13, 2013

The cast of 'Bob's Burgers': (from left) Dan Mintz (Tina Belcher), Eugene Mirman (Gene Belcher), John Roberts (Linda Belcher), H. Jon Benjamin (Bob Belcher), and Kristen Schaal (Louise Belcher). Standing: creator Loren Bouchard. (This image is not from the Crystal show.)

If you ever want to see the good and bad side of Portland's young and hip population in all its (vain)glory, pack a few hundred of them into uncomfortable plastic chairs in a hot, muggy venue, keep the beer and liquor flowing, and then put the stars of a beloved TV show in front of them.

So it was that the cast of Bob's Burgers, the animated show that is managing to outwit and outshine the rest of the Sunday night lineup on FOX, appeared onstage at the Crystal Ballroom this past Friday for a live event that allowed them to drink in both the love and the weirdness of their Rose City fan base.

The show featured all of the main cast members of the show—H. Jon Benjamin (he voices Bob—read our Q&A with him), Eugene Mirman (Gene), Kristin Schaal (Louise), Dan Mintz (Tina), and John Roberts (Linda)—as well as Larry Murphy, who plays one of the supporting characters. (Noticeably absent was Bob's Burgers creator Loren Bouchard who had to return to L.A. to help finish up the show's 4th season.) Each one of the principles were given a few minutes alone on stage to do standup, then the whole cast did a table read of their upcoming Thanksgiving episode. And all of it was wrapped up with a Q&A, and that's when things got especially freakish. But we'll get to that in a moment.

The set up of Bob's Burgers: Live was a pretty brilliant one, as it allowed fans to see exactly why Bouchard tapped the comedians that he did for their parts on the TV show. The personality and attitude of their characters is directly reflected from their standup acts.

Mintz's one-liners ("Breasts are a lot like batteries...if they're AA, they're smaller...if they're D, they're bigger, and if they're square, you don't want to put your tongue on them.") are delivered with the same dry, solemn tone as he gives Tina. Schaal and her character share a hyperactive energy cut with a dark side. And you could absolutely envision the weird and wonderful Gene growing up to be Mirman shouting to his girlfriend at the other end of grocery store aisle, "You know what? I am getting toilet paper. I don't think it's a waste!"

As warmly as all of these sets were received, the energy started to get a little rowdier once everyone sat down for the table read. When Roberts turned on his Linda voice or Mintz did his signature Tina moan, the crowd exploded with gleeful shouts and applause. But many of the best jokes in this pretty hilarious episode that centered on the mystery of how the Thanksgiving turkey ended up in the toilet were lost thanks to the unforgiving acoustics of the room and a steady stream of hollering and murmurs from the audience.

So it was that, by the time members of the crowd were given a microphone to engage with the cast of the show, things turned weird. The first gent didn't want to ask a question but instead to get Roberts to sing a song from the show with him. Another younger member of the audience wanted to know the cast's favorite colors. The seemingly well-meaning question about how to break into voice acting turned into a painfully bad tryout for the show. And let's not forget the nervous woman trying to promote her Bob's Burgers–related blog.

It was an interminable exercise meant to engage with the fans, but not surprisingly, a good chunk of the crowd vacated the Crystal Ballroom as it wore on. Kudos to the actors for gamely answering the strangest of questions or wittily batting them aside—"The best way to become a voice actor? Probably...doing standup for about 10 years.”—but they really deserved better.

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