Grantland has a wonderful piece on the Harmontown tour
This is a solid look at Harmontown, warts and all.
It's not stand-up, it's not theater, and it's not a lecture, although sometimes it feels like all those things. (Maybe not theater.) It's filed under "comedy" in iTunes, which isn't wrong, but its best moments belong in some imaginary genre alongside books like Ben Lerner's Leaving the Atocha Station and Sheila Heti's How Should a Person Be?, the parts of Marc Maron's WTF podcast where you're listening to Marc Maron talk to himself about Marc Maron, the self-deconstructive nonfiction of David Shields's last few books, maybe the instantly legendary "cancer set" comedian Tig Notaro recorded at Largo last year, maybe Frank Ocean's Channel ORANGE — autobiographical work that derives its charge from a compulsion to confess, narrated from an in-the-moment POV by people not particularly concerned with their likability.
So Harmon gets up onstage, confesses to the crime of being Dan Harmon — bad boyfriend, high-functioning alcoholic, approval-hungry self-Googling6 mansion-owning gardener-having man-baby, petty, loathsome human — and somehow the results are cathartic and funny, and the essential truth that we are all shitty people and therefore we are all in this together is affirmed.7 Sometimes it's like being at a weird college seminar run by a substitute teacher in the middle of a drunken meltdown and sometimes it's like hanging out in Dan Harmon's living room. Sometimes people from the audience wander onstage; sometimes when this happens (or when Jeff says something like How's everybody doing tonight? and Harmon interrupts and tells the crowd that they don't have to answer that with applause if they don't want to) it feels like all the basic assumptions and rules of entertainment are up for debate. It's almost never boring, it's usually funny, and whenever the energy flags, Jeff Davis will cue up a hip-hop beat on his iPad and Harmon will start freestyle rapping, usually about fucking somebody's mom, and dancing like a 3-year-old in footie pajamas who's been allowed to stay up late to put on a show for cocktail-party guests.
"We've asked ourselves what the point of Harmontown is," Jeff Davis says. "Dan's never really had a good answer for it yet. [But] I really think it's the idea that self-love and self-hatred are the same thing. Dan hates himself; he also worships himself, and the fact that 90 people will come to every show that we do, and they'll love him — I think it's an experiment in finding out whether or not those people are being sincere. 'Do they really like me, or do they like the idea of me? Am I good person? What if I came out onstage and didn't do a show? What if I just rapped about fucking your mother? What if I didn't do anything? What if I took my shirt off, and I'm fat? What if I go off my diet? What if my girlfriend came out and told you I called her a c---?8 Would you still like me?'"