The name of the new comedy album from James Fritz is "Deflated." I'd never heard of Fritz or this project, but I thought I'd give it a shot. "Deflated" is a very apt title, mostly because that's exactly how I felt after listening to these 15 tracks. And not in a good way.
The album begins with Fritz's manic screaming and doesn't stop. I think he's meant to come across as a Lewis Black sort of angry, but the difference is Lewis Black is funny when he's angry. Fritz, with his lispy sssssscreamsssss sounds more like a contestant on [insert any reality show on the Bravo channel here] throwing a hissy fit.
"Deflated" was recorded live in Chicago in September. Despite the fact that it's literally just a couple of months old, the album features bits on topics as dated as Meatloaf's "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad", Ted Kennedy's death, and listening for hidden backward messages in -- that's right -- "Another One Bites the Dust." I'm not saying you can't talk about things in the past or experiences you've had in childhood...but Fritz talks about them as if they're trending topics and it just comes out awkward.
By the third track, Fritz has slipped out of his manic yelling persona and morphed into a whiny guy. I don't think this was intentional, as the yelling begins again a few tracks later when he tries to prove what a wild and crazy guy he is by telling a story about the time he got thrown out of Chuck E Cheese. It doesn't sound like they went back in and padded the laughter but there are a couple of moments where they probably should have. You can almost feel how exhausted the audience is and more than once they have all but given up on even offering up polite chuckles. They're just not interested anymore. Fortunately, Fritz steps in to laugh at his own jokes. I guess if no one else is going to, why not, right?
The biggest laughter on the album comes on Track 13, where he tells a somewhat confusing story about a bag of pasta. I'm wondering if there wasn't a physical movement that didn't translate audibly, because I wasn't sure why the audience erupted into a huge roar of guffaws. I sat here, confused, and I believe my exact words were, "Really?"
Unfortunately, Fritz miscalculates his own timing and drones on for two more tracks, never again coming anywhere close to that level of reaction from the audience. His obligatory "dirty" joke that ends the album falls flat, and when he leaves the stage, I could picture the crowd looking at each other and saying, "That was it?"
It's always a gamble buying an album when you're not familiar with the comedian or their material. Sometimes you hit paydirt..and sometimes you just end up Deflated.
Deflated is available from The Red Bard Comedy Record Label