I’ve seen both of these shows multiple times before, and he has one of the sturdiest reputations in the Twin Cities, so I don’t know that I really have all that much to add. The night I went, he did “Gilgamesh,” which is my favorite show of his. This time around, I was really enjoying the anachronisms, which hadn’t really registered with me before — but it’s a testament to how skilfully a world is sketched out linguistically that sudden, subtle shifts can produce a laugh in an audience.
(Also, I had a conversation with Charlie a while back — he was a big admirer of the performers in The Pumpkin Pie Show, whereas my response was something less than unmixed admiration — and he drew a comparison between what they were doing and what he does. The difference, I think, is that both of Charlie’s shows are so intensely layered vocally — that you’ll get hit with language language language dead stop to let it sink in, a voice raising in intensity abruptly pulled back to a near-whisper. This is as carefully choreographed as opera. As is The Pumpkin Pie Show, except that that particular show feels more like a punk rock concert, which may explain both why it’s so popular and why it was irritating me.)
Also, may I express just how astonished I am at how angry — scowling, swearing, throwing-things angry — that audience members get when they don’t get the show that they want? Oh, I’m sorry — you didn’t get the show you were expecting! I guess you’ll just have to find a way to soldier on through and settle for this other brilliant masterpiece. Jesus.