Ian Bagg
It Takes a Village
Stand Up! Records

By Austin L. Ray

About four minutes into It Takes a Village, Ian Bagg starts establishing characters via crowdwork. It’s then that he addresses “Vesty,” a woman up front who, wouldn’t you know it, is wearing a vest. From then on, for the most part, previously written material is an afterthought. Over the course of the following 41 minutes, we’ll meet “Turtle” (who’s wearing a turtle neck), “Stripes” (take a guess), “Muscles,” and, most prominently, Mike, Audrey and the rest of the Minneapolis bank crew. More than the material or even Bagg himself, these folks are the stars of the show, the butts of the jokes and, in a weird way, also the heroes.

ian bagg

As you might expect from a performance in which the main focus comes in the form of a bunch of rowdy, drunk people, the topics run a fairly wide swath of ridiculous. Big babies and the vaginas they come from, being married or not, the inability to communicate, confused ladies who have to pee, anti-itch cream as an anniversary gift, whisker burn, myriad relationship minutiae, etouffee, the favorite part of a blow job.

Audrey and Mike are the highlight of the show, employees of a bank on their holiday night out. The former is as noisily unhelpful as the latter is reticently reluctant to say much of anything. But as a pair of foils, you couldn’t do much better. Bagg delights in the bank crew, even going so far as to compare them to the bank from the night before (Apparently this club is a popular Minneapolis-area bank holiday-party destination?), which heckled him and left mid-performance. While he doesn’t fully abandon traditional material once he discovers the bank crew, he does return to them repeatedly, trying hard to find out the name of the establishment—much to the apparent chagrin of the employees in attendance. (“Have you guys loaned out all your money or something?” he asks at one point in disbelief. “Because you don’t seem to want anyone to know about your fucking bank.”)

Speaking of heckling, It Takes a Village is an interesting table-turn on the typical heckler-performer dynamic. Typically it’s the person on the stage versus the unruly denizens watching said person. Here it’s almost like Bagg’s the heckler, picking on poor, unsuspecting people (You start to eventually feel bad for Mike, a clear introvert who wasn’t planning on being quite so involved.), many of whom seem to have real trouble keeping up with him, which then, of course, becomes part of the gag.

While it grows increasingly difficult to enjoy upon multiple listens, It Takes a Village shows a talented performer with ample crowdwork skills, a likable human being with a clear, quick-thinking head on his shoulders. You won’t walk away with any hilarious one-liners or long, complicated, humorous stories to drop on your friends, but you probably will go see Ian Bagg when he comes to town. Pro tip: Sit way in the back if you don’t want to be part of the material.

It Takes a Village - Ian Bagg or Purchase on Amazon.com

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