Saturday, January 8, 2011

Alex Koll's "Wizard Hello"


Once upon a time in the faraway land of San Francisco, there lived a very powerful wizard comedian named Alex Koll. After years and years of practicing his comedy in reverberating caves, Alex decided to take his comedy outside of the wizarding world and did so with an album called Wizard Hello. And it was good.

Really good.

Yes, it's true, Alex Koll opens up his debut album offering the audience a "wizard hello", speaking in an over-the-top Will Farrell-esque voice, explaining he is indeed a wizard and ... OK, you just have to trust me on this. I know it sounds a little off-the-wall and to be honest, it is. But it's funny. And it's also a great way to prepare the audience for the comedy that is about to unfold. Koll's blend of originality and skillful descriptions is a breath of fresh air.

Koll is a great storyteller and really knows how to paint the exact mental picture he's going for. When he describes a near-homeless man by saying it was as if "his clothes had exploded and had come back together" you know instantly what the man looked like. It's the absolute perfect choice of words I never would have thought to use in a million years, and that's precisely where Koll excels. When he goes on to say the man "fell off a college scholarship into 20 years of schizophrenia" I found myself simultaneously laughing and wondering how he came up with that.

After a while, I had to accept the simple fact that Koll was going to keep coming up with one well-crafted phrase after another and it was like experiencing a master magician. At some point you have to stop wondering "how does he do that" and just sit back and enjoy it for what it is. He's obviously put in a lot of time to choose his exact verbiage and it works. Whether he's giving his theory on how tequila is made (the answer: it's made of bruises in a Mexican factory) or performing his impression of Sasquatch (heavy on the sass), Wizard Hello is teeming with some of the most entertaining oddball creative electricity I've experienced.

With stories of his pinatador father (he played pinata for 20 years), how he got athlete's face (and even worse, how he got rid of it), and his re-writing of a classic Prince song, you never know what's coming around the next corner and when it hits you, the surprise is part of the fun. Koll has written one of the corniest, most groan-inducing coloring book-related puns ever to hit the face of comedy and I mean that in the absolute best way possible. He knows what kind of reaction it's going to get from the crowd, and his "I'm just a simple joke maker" reaction to their reaction is spot-on.

The album ends with a few throw-away musical studio tracks that reference bits he did earlier on in the album. They're worth giving a listen to, but Koll's stand-up is so strong they pale in comparison.

All in all, Wizard Hello is an impressive debut album. Not only am I anticipating the adventures Koll will share with us in the future, I'm looking forward to how he shares them with us.

***

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