Ben Gleib at Rick Bronson's House of Comedy
Only about half of Rick Bronson's House of Comedy was filled early Saturday night, but nearly a half million people still managed to get in on the jokes.
As part of his current tour, Ben Gleib is offering roughly one stand-up performance a week to Facebook Live where participants can weigh in on the act from around the world.
So why not just download his Showtime special,"Neurotic Gangster," or pick up one his CDs? Because each of the Facebook shows is 100 percent improvised.
"So, what do you do for a living?," a question most comedians use as a breather between prepared material, becomes the basis for an entire one-hour set, a bold experiment that requires a deft comic who actually listens to his audience, even when they're not offering much.
Most of the in-the-flesh spectators at the Mall of America's club didn't really do their part. A woman claiming to be a nutritionist refused to offer any free advice; a sanitation worker made his job sound as complex as designing an atomic bomb.
An interaction with a pregnant woman was also going nowhere -- until Gleib had his opening act scroll through comments from the Facebook audience.
"Name her baby!" the moderator said from the back of the room. The input seemed to inspire Gleib, especially after the woman said the plan was to name him Odie, a response that triggered a great riff from the comic on the downside of sharing the same name as the sidekick from "Garfield."
Gleib, best known as the host of GSN's "Idiotest," was also sharp in his late-night set, one that relied more on prepared material he's building for a cable special he hopes to tape later this year. But flying without a net --- with the whole internet world to see -- brought out the best in him.
You can catch the act yourself, his third attempt at this approach, at https://www.facebook.com/bengleib, and look for opportunities to join the action live during upcoming shows across the country.
Want to watch Gleib the old-fashioned way? He's scehduled to appear on "Today" with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on Sept. 13 and "Idiotest" runs throughout the week on GSN.