You can't go home again. But Dan Harmon can get within 70 or so miles of it.
The Milwaukee-born writer and comedian, best known for creating (and then getting fired from) the NBC cult favorite sitcom "Community," brought his Harmontown podcast back to his home state at the Majestic Theater on Wednesday night.
Why is the Harmontown tour skipping Milwaukee? "Routing," Harmon insisted vaguely, before adding, "It's nothing personal. I will say that I was beaten there." Harmon did allude to having a strained relationship with his older brother, who still lives in Milwaukee; the last time they saw each other, they had an argument and Harmon ended up skipping his brother's wedding and going to the zoo.
Harmon did his best to recreate the hometown vibe by inviting his best friend from Brown Deer High School, Dave "Frito" Friedel, to come up on stage. The two talked about awkwardly befriending each other freshman year over a shared love of Dungeons & Dragons and computers, and then Frito shared a story of having part of his toe amputated on Christmas Eve. "That's good luck, right?" Harmon asked.
It's that kind of podcast, a loose, improv-heavy 90 minutes of confessional comedy, nerd cultural references, and potty jokes.
“We don’t plan anything. We don’t prepare anything,” comedian Jeff Davis, who serves as a sidekick and a sounding board on the show, told 77 Square's Andy Downing for last week's cover story. “We just show up; Dan kind of lets it rip with anything that’s on his mind.”
Whenever the show seemed to hit a lull, Harmon would launch into a riotously bad improv rap, his rumpled frame gyrating in a strangely focused dance as he made up rhymes.
Harmon also invited his former improve teacher at Comedy Sportz Milwaukee, Bob Orvis, to come on stage and do an improv comedy game. Harmon credited Orvis not just with helping him to be funny, but with helping him become a good person and learn how to connect with an audience.
Harmon didn't talk about his experiences on "Community," and he didn't make any news, such as a recent New York show where he had "Saturday Night Live" cast member Jason Sudeikis prank-call Chevy Chase pretending to be Joe Biden. Instead, he invited all the audience members of Latino descent (all four of them) up on stage to act out an anti-drug afterschool special.
Then, he brought things full circle back to his Brown Deer days by playing a session of Dungeons and Dragons on stage. Perhaps all Harmon really needs to feel at home is good friends, an appreciative audience, and a bag of 20-sided dice.