Much as I hate to admit it, there was one interesting idea from the 1981 movie "My Dinner With Andre": the notion of just sitting down and spending two hours listening to an interesting conversation at a nearby dinner table.
Well, dinner may not have been served, but the mostly-unplanned conversation between Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager was delightfully entertaining for the mostly-sold-out crowd Saturday night in San Diego’s Spreckels Theatre.
And the pair-up was truly eclectic: Prager, the politically conservative radio talk-show host, orthodox Jew who in his spare time teaches the Torah, and Carolla, the apolitical atheist comedian whose edgy podcasts are the guilty pleasure for countless subscribers.
Prager appreciates Carolla’s humor and spontaneity, while Carolla appreciates Prager’s intelligence and judgment.
“There is a ton of wisdom in Prager,” Carolla said in a recent podcast. “We have almost nothing in common.”
But you have to wonder how they would interact together to produce an interesting conversation worth the price of admission for two hours.
Somehow it worked.
Prager pursued a dialogue of general topics, with freedom to stray from the subject, and Carolla interjected humor along the way. Carolla began discussing his son’s recent T-ball prowess and then reminisced about his own days of school dodge-ball, a sport that is currently outlawed, along with many other fun sports.
“My kids will never know the joys of Smear The Queer,” he said.
The subject of racism in America came up, and Prager reiterated a point he has made on his radio show that “the United States is the least racist country in the world.”
To which Carolla replied, “1,400 white people are now applauding that comment.”
Typical of the evening, when Prager referred to street riots, Carolla questioned whether “do you really need the word ‘street’ before ‘riot’? Where else are you going to riot, in an entry way?”
Both Carolla and Prager described how, when they grew up, their parents would cover the upholstery of their couches with plastic or sheets. I have seen this and never understood the point of it – the only people getting to enjoy the couch would be the future owners, if any. But it was a pretty personal moment for both men, opening up this part of their childhoods for the crowd.
Carolla reflected that he “wasn’t raised with low self-esteem. I was raised with no self-esteem.” After more discussion on self-esteem in kids, the two agreed that the higher the self-esteem of the kid, the worse the resulting adult is, and vice versa.
Among the laughs there were some other ultimate truths: cohabitating before marriage leads to a marriage that ends in divorce, government care should be reserved for military amputees and disabled people, not freeloaders, and the bigger the government the smaller the citizen.
At one point Carolla asked Prager, “if it is so obvious that socialism, communism or the western European model has failed, why do liberals keep proposing it?”
Prager answered that leftism is a religion and facts rarely get in the way of any religion. Prager mentioned his recent non-profit project, Prager University, a collection of 5-minute online courses from notable authors and lecturers. At the mention of the word “university,” Carolla interjected “I rushed a frat at Prager University but it didn’t work out.”
Both Carolla and Prager had books to sell, but they were clearly not there to promote them. Prager referred to his book, "Still The Best Hope," only in passing, and Carolla never mentioned his upcoming book, "Not Taco Bell Material," available for pre-order now before its June release.
They had a certain chemistry together, if for no other reason than the fact that they have so little in common and yet they respect and enjoy each other. One thing that could add to this great pairing would be more comedic interactions between the two, where one of them pokes fun at or criticizes the other, and the audience gets to see a resolution or impasse of the dispute. Sure, Prager isn’t known for his own sense of humor, but he is able to follow along the arc of Carolla’s gags. They could become a kind of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, or at least Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.
On the other hand, this might be a show that is impossible to improve upon, as viewers will be able to see for themselves at the following scheduled dates:
July 12 Houston
July 14 Phoenix
August 26 Orlando
September 13 Dallas
October 11 Cleveland
October 13 Philadelphia
November 29 Sacramento
December 1 Seattle
Tickets can be bought at Laughstub.com.