It’s becoming increasingly clear that Leslie Jones might be getting too big for “Saturday Night Live.”
And that’s a great problem to have. The comedic powerhouse couldn’t even be contained by the massive Paramount Theatre stage on Saturday night at Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival. In a 7 p.m. show called “Leslie Loves Colin” with fellow “SNL” Weekend Update star and head writer Colin Jost, Jones erupted with a fiery stand-up set that saw her coming down from the stage to address audience members right to their face.
It was a crazy, brilliant, absolutely electrifying set that didn’t return to normalcy until Jost (who is a fine comedian, but was completely outmatched here) returned to the stage to do a filthy Q&A bit with her.
What made Jones so great at Moontower? Let’s enumerate the ways:
She’s great on “SNL,” but completely unleashed live
On “Saturday Night Live,” she can leave her mark on a sketch with a single memorable line, but she can only go so far on live, national TV. When her Moontower set began, she warned the audience, “This ain’t gonna be (expletive) like ‘SNL!’ ” and she was right. Her set was raw, completely hilarious and very unpredictable. When she left the stage to do some crowd work, the first thing she did was begin screaming in an audience member’s face. It was a blast of energy worthy of Sam Kinison.
She knows how to use her physical presence
Jones, who wore bright orange Nikes, is very tall and she uses her body effectively, leaning forward deeply for emphasis, stalking the stage, convulsing and moving around constantly like another triumphantly aggressive stand-up comic, Godfrey. And she has perhaps the greatest scream in comedy since Bob Odenkirk’s “Mr. Show” days. Next to Colin Jost, she looks like she could crush him without even trying, and that makes for some great comedy when he squirms at her (presumably mock) sexual advances.
Her material is as strong as her bluster
I’ve seen other comics do material about those Sarah McLachlan rescue dog commercials, but Jones has one of the best takes on it, unleashing a torrent of fury at dog owners and McLachlan alike for making her feel so much sadness.
Her crowd work is fantastic
She sat on laps and begged for a spanking, went past the front row of audience members “Back here to the poor people,” and ridiculed one unlucky man’s denim shirt for what felt like a full five minutes, culminating in a closet-hunting bit that she performed beautifully with her back to the audience. When she talked to a group of guys who’d left their significant others at home to see the show, she asked, “How many prostitutes have you killed?” Jones looks young for her age and has been doing stand-up for a long time, long enough to develop a fearlessness at doing on-the-spot comedy with a live crowd.
She put Jost in his place
Colin Jost can write a fine joke, but on “Weekend Update,” he can come across as a little smug when he’s not telegraphing punchlines from a mile back. Jones continued the ongoing “SNL” joke of treating him like her personal sexual fantasy. When she called him her “Little red Corvette,” the audience erupted. Topical, hilarious and weirdly poignant.
Can’t wait to see her as a “Ghostbuster.”