If you've ever seen Barry Crimmins perform, you've probably heard him tell a story about attending his 20-year Skaneateles High School reunion.
By then, Crimmins had gone on to a career as one of America's foundational political satirists. In addition to opening the Ding Ho and Stitches comedy clubs in Boston and savaging '80s conservatism on their stages, Crimmins also used his talents to support causes — like AIDS benefits.
Word had gotten back to Skaneateles. So when Crimmins returned for his reunion, a classmate confronted him. Mentioning the AIDS benefits, he asked Crimmins, "You're not queer, are you?"
Crimmins, the story goes, responded as only he can: "I'm whatever threatens you. I'm a communist with AIDS and I bite."
Sunday night saw the release of Crimmins' first one-hour special, directed and produced by Louis C.K. in Lawrence, Kansas, in July. And it's all too appropriately titled "Whatever Threatens You."
The set is Crimmins at his fiery, provocative best, featuring classic stories like the reunion as well as freshly generated vitriol for the field of 2016 presidential candidates. It's available for $5 on Louis C.K.'s website, louisck.net, and can be either streamed or downloaded in 1080p high definition.
The only person who'd use the word "lucky" to describe Barry Crimmins' life is Barry Crimmins.
Louis C.K., as he wrote on his site, has never before featured another comedian there. He explained why Crimmins was the first:
Barry is one of my favorite comedians of all time. He is a rarely intelligent and hilarious political satirist and obviously this being an election year it's a particularly good time to hear what he has to say.
When I started out in the clubs in Boston, Barry was one of the Titans. One of the great comics of the time and he was singularly responsible for fostering a massive stand-up comedy scene in Boston that begat some of the best comedians of the last 35 years.
Most importantly, Barry is hilarious and brilliant.
A lot of comedians fall into categories or clusters but I've never seen what Barry does repeated anywhere. He has an approach to American life, American leadership and the people here and where we have been and where we are headed and why we do what we do that just blows me away.
I think that his comedic voice is essential. That's why I made his special.
Crimmins' first special comes a year after the release of "Call Me Lucky," the critically praised documentary about his life made by close friend Bobcat Goldthwait.
After traveling the film festival circuit for the better part of 2015, Crimmins returned to touring — including stops at Auburn Public Theater in February and September of this year.
If (hopefully when) he comes back to APT, be sure to see him. Crimmins may be "Whatever Threatens You," but as the special shows, he's not to be ignored.