Thursday, August 17, 2006

make with the ha-ha

Took in a comedy show Tuesday night, something I very seldom do and really should do far more often. Well, let me check that, I should see comedy far more often at certain venues and featuring certain people, yes, that's definitely the proper call to action.

Because though laughing in public is very very good, stand-up in its typical form has gotten tired. Just like aspects of any performing art eventually hit a point where they need to get shaken up, taken someplace different, or shelved all together, stand-up needs a jolt, or needs to have many of its favorite toys and go-to moves taken away so it has to relearn what made it so exciting in the first place. Not to mention the crap clubs that you have to pay $15 to enter on the condition you buy two watered down drinks. Then after all that you maybe, MAYBE, have some laughs between the squealing hoots from bachelorette party next to you as they get all worked up about something that happened to them on the way to the club that night? Is it any wonder people started to stay home and the Ha Ha Hole on Route 46 is now a tanning salon?

But the Comedians of Comedy Tour is different. Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Brian Posehn and (in the video's case) Maria Bamford hit rock clubs, places like the 40 Watt in Athens, Warsaw in Brooklyn and, in Tuesday's case, the Troubadour. And there's something about the show that's so much more hysterical than the last time you were taken to a traditional 'Yay Comedy!' club (because it may not have been your idea). Maybe it's because you're standing shoulder to shoulder with someone so you're more engaged, but probably it's the fact that all the comics are amazing and consistently trying something different, challenging themselves and the audience--and by challenging the audience I don't mean skinning a beaver or insulting whatever ethnic group in their line of vision because that's 'edgy.' Just a different, very skewed asthetic, and it happens to be funny as hell.

I wish I could better describe what makes this show so good, but describing comedy is even harder than describing music. It's like doing an intepretive dance to describe a song in a white room with the lights off. You're just going to have to watch the movie, see the show on Comedy Central some night at like 1 a.m. when they've run out of Carlos Mencia to spill on your shoes. Or, better yet, put on something fancy and go see them on tour in September.

This is the part where if I were a better, more service-oriented blogger I would have samples of the above people's work for you to download, treasure and horde. But I can't. I have Patton Oswalt's "222" CD and great as it may be (it's weird to be listening to a CD in the car and be laughing at your dashboard), it also has no track markers--and I'm not posting a 58 minute CD. I won't do it, Petunia. (See my advice above about the tour and the movie and whatnot.) And, for the most part, songs designed to make you laugh suck.


'Polka Dot Tail' by Ween

God bless Ween. Seriously.

If you're never heard them before and think they're just sort of this goofy stoner duo that sing offensive songs like an indie rock version of "Weird Al" well, you're kind of right, but stay with me. Ween doesn't just make fun of songs themselves, they make fun of whole genres. And they play them flawlessly, which makes for this incredible cognitive disconnect. I mean, if they're just fucking around, they shouldn't be able to play so well, right? And if it's all a big goof, why are are their 'serious' pop songs so, well...good?

This song, taken from "The Mollusk" sounds a little like a bloated British prog-psychedlic band performing on the deck of a sinking pirate ship. Everything from the warped seasick vocals to the waterlogged guitar is disorienting, especially the existential lyrics that ask "Have you ever made a flan and squished it in your hand?" Oh no. Nothing really makes sense, especially around 1:06 mark, and if you're not careful it all becomes very, very funny. The really frightening part? That allmusic considers this one of their most 'concise' records. Help me.

Buy "The Mollusk" from InSound


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