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McCann left Conan in 2012, mostly because he was a New Yorker living in New York City and Conan had made the move to LA to take over The Tonight Show (for a minute, at least)—and the travel between coasts wasn't sustainable for McCann. This all plays into the one-man show Brian McCann's Leisure Hour, because, as he puts it during the performance, once he was in New York full-time he quickly realized that his family and friends just didn't give much of a shit. So, he decided to partake in a life of leisure.
What exactly does a life of leisure feature? Silk pajamas and robe, obviously. Socks in sandals. Canonical works of literature strategically placed for all to see. Decorative flowers alongside a bag of Pirate's Booty. A leisure journal in which to wax poetic. A bottle of wine. A glass into which the wine will be poured. These components are all present on McCann's stage as he schools an audience to appreciate a good hour of leisure. And can you believe it, McCann is over the top in his sell, which begins right when he escapes his stodgy rat-race attire and changes into his silks on stage. It's a wild scene because you get to see a lot of McCann—and a lot of that McCann dancing. But he lets the audience know with a big, shit-eating grin and a wink that he is totally cool with his body and it should be too. (Full disclosure: During a little crowd work by McCann I was outed as a writer for the Reader.)
He carries the show with that over-exaggerated smile, occasionally drowning it in wine—because that is the lap of luxury: being able to drink all day in your pajamas. The wine provides a strong supporting role during the one-man show, affecting the many moods of McCann as he winds through scenes that feature him playing a short selection of single-thought songs on guitar, introducing a new nonsensical TV character (the name is too good), and revealing a "midshow psychic prediction." What makes McCann's brand of comedy special is that it embraces tropes while simultaneously dismembering them. The punchline isn't nearly as important as how McCann plays it up. And boy does he play it up. Jokes are executed with so many bells and whistles and so much theater that the end product practically teeters on the edge of too much. Which, as a result, makes McCann even smarter and funnier.
And the thread of desperation stitched within Brian McCann's Leisure Hour makes it all the more fun. As the performance wears on, the darkness settles in and the wine disappears—the whole bottle is crushed by show's end—and McCann has to wrestle with the reality that his life of leisure may not be as self-imposed as he had previously let on. But that's why there will always be more wine.
Through 10/18: Fri-Wed 8 PM, Sat 10 PM, iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 312-929-2401, ioimprov.com, $15.