Ironically, comedy can oftentimes be a cruel and humorless industry. While the art of making others laugh can propel people to international notoriety, untold levels of wealth, and immense influence, the ascent is usually a treacherous journey that most abandon before coming anywhere close to completion. Those fortunate enough to reach the rarefied air of success in the realm of comedy must—in almost all instances—eventually come to terms with fame’s fleeting ways, all while still having to make a living playing to smaller crowds in smaller venues than they’ve grown accustomed. It’s why Pauly Shore plays rural Midwestern towns and strip club basements. It’s why Marlon Wayans is freelancing with cameos in NBA recruiting videos, and it’s probably why Preston Lacy allowed himself to be struck in the face by a raw chicken while eating an egg (shell and all) in front of fewer than 25 people at the Cactus Club on Thursday during the first stop of his “Fat Chance” comedy tour.
As a memorable member of the Jackass ensemble, Lacy and his masochistic mates Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee Man, Bam Margera, and Chris Pontius among others quickly rose to basic cable consciousness in the early 2000s with the irreverent MTV show. The short-lived series inspired an untold number of copycat stunts, spawned three wildly successful Jackass films, resulted in spin-off shows and movies like Wild Boys and Bad Grandpa, and landed Knoxville and Pontius legitimate acting careers. Wee Man and Steve-O took to comedy, and recently, Lacy has been piecing together his own material for an independent comic variety show. Following about 25 minutes of jokes, Jackass anecdotes, and disgusting “stunts,” the hefty humorist left everything he had on the Bay View club’s stage, including poultry and pie filling.
Before Lacy took the stage, young Kenosha comic Nick Davis turned in an impressive opening set before Sammy Arechar knocked out an awesome 20-minute performance that found him going off-book and riffing in response to the small crowd and absurd show setting. Tom Garland chased Arechar’s homecoming set with 45 minutes of abrasive intensity that kept the intimate crowd cringing and laughing in about equal portions before finally giving way to the guest of honor. Propped on a bar stool and smiling wide, Lacy didn’t seem to care that he was performing to, by our count, 22 people. Showing a bit of his greenness, he glanced at notes on his phone in the early-going, but the bullet points about going gay for Tom Brady, buying rolling papers, bestiality, and squandering his Jackass money by investing in greeting cards and video stores still landed with the decidedly crass crowd. He was upbeat and endearing throughout, and quick to reference jokes the preceding comics made.
Soon, he shifted from the monologue to storyteller mode. Specifically, he went into memories from filming Jackass. He started with a story about sleeping with a woman who was looking for Knoxville. “Mr. Knoxville never did come that night, but let me tell you, old Preston did!” he said. He followed with an admission about Wee Man’s penis. “It’s bigger than mine. It’s kind of amazing, actually.” He relived an on-set story about a pig eating an apple out of his butt…and staying for more. He talked about Steve-O snorting semen and reminisced about squirting a tube of mayonnaise into the asshole of his now-deceased friend Ryan Dunn. “I just filled Dunn’s butt with mayo,” he said, before paying his respects to his fallen friend. As graphic and shameless as they were, the stories were far and away the best part of the set.
Revealing and unashamed as his spoken material was, the last portion of the show literally saw him stripping down. He took off his trousers and walked in front of a folding table stocked with foods, beverages, condiments, and weaponry. Joined on stage by Garland, Lacy gagged on a raw egg while his feature act punched him in the face while using a leaky chicken corpse as a boxing glove. From there, he had whipped cream pies slammed against his head and he was shocked with a Taser. For the closer, they did the “Tequila Stuntman,” which found the pair snorting salt, putting lime in their eyes, and drinking hot sauce. As the pants-less performer screamed and blindly ambled about the food-strewn stage, some of the tiny turnout laughed. Others looked at the spectacle unsure of how to respond.
Regardless of the reaction, Preston Lacy remained a showman through and through. Compared to the promising punchlines and intriguing tales he told while fully clothed earlier, the stunts seemed to be a strange and clumsy fit for an otherwise decent performance by a subculture footnote who seemed relatively at ease with his fading semi-fame. Before even putting his slacks back on, a cream-covered Lacy was glad to stay out and take photos with fans. Though the crowd was discouragingly small, those who came out saw something they’re unlikely to ever see again (for better or worse). It was part stand-up showcase, part Southern fried “The Moth,” and part freak show. More than anything, though, it was really, really fucking weird.