Reviewer: Beth Detloff
Venue: The Temple Theatre
John Crist rolled through Saginaw’s Temple Theatre this Friday with The Emotional Support Tour. Aptly named this is Crist’s seventh tour and Saginaw is the third stop. The poster for the tour shows a rainbow sky like something you would see after a storm clearing. With turbulence hitting his career in 2019 I wanted to see who the emotional support was for, him or us? The emotional support aspect was explained in the opening sketch video the audience viewed before the comics took the stage. Crist was looking to engage with like minded people, and the ticket holders were indeed those people.
Typically I love to go to comedy shows without knowing much about the comedian. A friend informed me that Crist was TikTok famous and I needed to know why. Crist has a plethora of content behind him ranging from podcasts to a recently released book. I spent the day listening to his comedy special, I got questions. This special had several well hitting jokes, and it was eight years ago. He could only have gotten funnier since then. I also sampled net positive, his current Spotify podcast, and several Youtube sketches. With my headphones on I knew my coworkers would be wondering what I was laughing at all day. Still I was ready to experience the comedy in person. Streaming a comedy special online is not the same as sitting in the dark theater. Surrounded by peers, our faces tilted forty five degrees to the stage. That tingle you feel as you wait for the punchline, as if we were holding our breath the whole time.
Crist received support from his tourmates, opening comics Derrick Stroup and Caleb Elliot. They got the crowd ready with several jokes about hiking and Friday fish fry’s. Stroup’s booming southern voice paired with his Colorado lifestyle provided comedy the audience wanted more of. They had the crowd in stitches with banter about local spots they were lucky enough to visit on the way through.
What Crist brings to the stage is an energy I have not experienced in a comic before. He was in continuous motion, burning hundreds of calories. He was shaking, he was stomping, he was hitting himself with the mic. I was left wondering what crazy movement he would do next. Crist woke the audience up like a triple shot espresso, without the crash. The best part of his delivery was when he would crack up at his own joke, causing the audience to laugh even harder.
Crist comes from the deep south, so would he have jokes that resonated with Michiganders? The jokes that Crist pulls from his repertoire are ones of shared human connection. Jokes about fast food charities, absurd airline charges, and family group texts. These types of jokes are relatable, to everyone. The ridiculousness of life is normally something we complain about, but at a comedy show we get to laugh at all the annoyances that make up general human existence. I may need some emotional support from all the jokes he and the other comics made about Saginaw, but then I remember that life is better when we embrace and laugh at our flaws.
Crist identifies as a Christian comic, but has no problem poking fun at religion. He grew up being homeschooled and his dad was a pastor. As a Catholic school kid I can relate to the humor in people’s religious experiences. He is known for observational humor, and he turned the mirror on himself a little last night. Crist was able to slip past cancel culture and even pokes fun at the whole idea. He was engaging with the audience and he was not keeping any thoughts to himself. The audience especially seemed to love the end of the show where all three comics came on stage to riff together.
Crist and his tour head to several more stops including Grand Rapids on February 25th. The Temple Theatre was the perfect spot for Crist to warm up his tour. The audience was a perfect meld of Great Lakes Bay Regioners who may one day see a rebooted Netflix special and say “I heard that joke in Saginaw.”