Glenn Beck was in Houston on Friday for a stop on his current speaking tour, dubbed the "Glenn Beck Live On Stage!" tour; it was everything I hoped it would be, with a few twists and turns. As an observer of most things Tea Party and conservative-related, I had high hopes for a good ol' fashioned night in balmy Texas with one of the biggest right-thinking pop culture figures going today.
If you are a student of personality and media powerhouses, Beck's career is a great case study. At his heart, he's a comedian, a morning DJ, working in a medium prone to paranoia, right-wing radio, but he finds a way to temper it all with sweet emotion so that he doesn't go into Alex Jones territory, where you can hear the blood vessels bursting and the seven seas turning into fire. He's one of us, er, you.
Beck's show consisted of familial laughs, jokes you would get on a rerun of According To Jim, and was sprinkled with just enough political discourse to remind you where you were and who you were spending your evening with. The only thing missing was commercials for gold and a few weather and traffic reports.
In front of a massive, generic stage backdrop, Beck held court to a mostly-full Verizon Wireless Theater on Friday night for less than two hours, with an intermission, and we sat transfixed for the duration, watching the proceedings.
It was fun telling folks that I was going to see Glenn Beck and Devo in that order, and they would only hear Beck and think that they somehow missed the memo that the iconic indie-artist was in town playing with the New Wave group. When I clarified, they gave me icy stares, like I had a stain on my Klan hood.
My tweets from the night:
I'm afraid to wait in that line outside. I will be ferreted out. It was too warm to wear long-sleeves, and the last time I tucked a shirt in, I was burying my grandfather.
He's doing like Bill Cosby-style stand-up? This won't be so bad.
He has a whole stage backdrop too, like old-school Broadway. He's wearing a red pearl snap, skate shoes, and slim fit jeans. Oh dear Lord, people will think I tried to dress like him.
When he's not screaming or talking about the social apocalypse, he's like doddery dad. He loves his SUV.
I want there to be a sweet merch table here so bad. Give me something to buy!
Here it is. The rumors of an economic terror plan for May to bring down the U.S. economy. Popcorn time!
Now he just dropped a Charlie Sheen reference and the whole crowd screamed "winning," just like someone unfrozen from early March would.
We're all gonna get lined up against a wall and get shot in the head. I like where this is going.
He's talking about foodies and how he is basically a vegan now. Blames it on George Soros. If you listen to the morning radio show, you know who that is.
The crowd booed at him for being a vegan for medical reasons, but cheered for shopping at Whole Foods?
No one else I know is hearing Glenn Beck talk about shitting but me right now. You all lose. His new diet has made his internal works "different."
Glenn Beck's poop is clear now, if what he just said is true.
At his bedrock he's really just a comedian working a paranoid medium to his advantage. I have chuckled so far more than once.
He may lose it during this passage about Billy Graham. I can sense it.
AND HE JUST DID.
I have now seen Glenn Beck cry live. This is like seeing Iron Maiden's Eddie or even Slayer getting drenched in blood for me, as far as my pop culture moments go.
It's also date night for a lot of these people here from the looks of it. What a way to spend a silver wedding anniversary. Intermission time is now.
Lots of families. Kind of like the crowds I see at gun shows, really, so nothing is surprising to me. A lot of suits. Secret Obama Administration spies? Damn you, Count Barackula.
The bars are doing brisk business selling glasses of wine, but there is still no merch for sale. That sucks, because I would seriously wear a Glenn Beck shirt to the Devo show I have tickets to across town after this is over.
And we're back. Questions from the audience. Pat Gray and Stu from the show onstage. I wished I could have submitted a question somewhere. This will be fun, because the guys have air-horns onstage to shut Beck up whenever he gets too preachy.
"I store more bullets than cans of food."
"Let's build a wall around Texas to keep the progressives out. Everyone in Austin will wet their pants like little girls."
"You should go to church on vacation."
"Isn't it time America had a hot president?"
People cheer for the strangest things tonight. Michele Bachmann. Obama's abs. Whatever woman in here who cheered for Obama's abs will be needing to find a good divorce lawyer soon.
He compared Houston's Montrose to New York City's Greenwich Village. People hissed and gasped, thinking of their children being given force-fed roofies and getting back-alley drag queen makeovers off Taft.
"Water is the new oil."
This Q&A is great. He says "Texas" and people scream like I'm at a Cheap Trick concert.
He is apologizing for the heavy security at the door and says he wishes we could have brought our guns in. That also meant I couldn't bring a decent camera in.
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"We have 18 chalkboards at Fox News and tons all over the country for when we go on tours like this."
Comparing Obama's personality to a child's air-horn.
He's more than likely leaving Fox News judging from what he just said, when his contract is up. He got very solemn and invoked the Lord. Maybe he wants his own channel, like Oprah? G-Beezy don't leave us!
Heading to Devo. What a weird night. Devolution indeed.