Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jesse Joyce's "Pro Joyce"


On his new project Pro Joyce, comedian Jesse Joyce makes me feel like I'm in a cool Ocean's 11-type gang. That's probably not the way you'd expect a comedy album review to start off, but stay with me on this. He rattles off anecdotes like the brilliant mastermind in any This-Place-Is-Impossible-To-Rob-But-We're-Gonna-Do-It-Anyway heist movie who knows the plan like the back of his hand and is explaining to the rest of the guys how it's gonna go down ("Stay with me fellas, first we're gonna scale the side of the building. Steno Pad, you'll be across the street serving as look-out. Jimmy, you're going to be in the van monitoring the phone lines. Sneaks, you go across the street and order me a ham sandwich"). His rapid-fire delivery lends a sense of urgency to his material, raising the stakes on each track so you can't wait to find out what happens next.

Joyce doesn't write one-liners but rather constructs stories. He's a recovering alcoholic with a great story about the time he wasn't allowed to drive in the state of New Jersey for a year. And speaking of automobile-related tales, I wish I could be in the room with you to watch your reaction when you hear how he got stuck in traffic. Not just stuck in traffic, but stuck in the back of a traffic jam that he created in front of him. I can't really explain how he was able to pull that off without sounding like Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception but trust me...it 's a story you want to hear.

One of my favorite bits is simply called "Jeffy" and tells how, when being introduced to new strangers, some people don't hear "Jesse." If nothing else, this track will have you declaring "Jazzy!!!" until your friends kindly ask you to stop.

Joyce's crowd work is really good and his reaction to "one old married dude"'s creepy laugh midway through the album makes for a nice detour.

Just like his late writing partner Greg Giraldo, Joyce has a way of taking subjects that would normally be conversation killers and extracts from them comedy gold. If someone put a gun to my head and demanded I talk about oh, babies dying, for instance, and not just talk about babies dying but make babies dying funny,  it's probably fair to say I would spend the rest of my days with a bullet lodged in my cranium. Joyce, on the other hand, would be totally safe. I'm still not sure how he did it, but he took that very topic and knocked it out of the park (the joke, not a baby).

There's a lot going on on this album and Joyce talks so fast and spans so many topics, there's no way I'll be able to cover everything. Like someone at an awards ceremony trying to thank everyone they ever met in under 30 seconds, I know no matter how many bits I mention, there are even more that I'll forget that deserve to be named. There's the one about witnessing a fight at a Halloween party where Joyce got to see a black Gilligan up against a box of tissues. And then there's the one about how Joyce and his wife met (which isn't just a funny story, but is also kinda sweet, too). And the one about his trip to the Philippines and how it spurred one of the most memorable Best-Man toasts that have yet to be recited. I don't want to forget the one with the old Transylvanian guy in a cell phone store looking to buy typewriter ribbon. And then....

Well, you get the point. There are a lot of great things going on here. There are comedy albums that you listen to once, and you're good to go. That's not the case with Jesse Joyce's newest endeavor. Listen to it again and again, and each time different things will stand out. It provides 51 minutes of non-stop laughter. As of this writing, I've listened to it five times from start to finish and I'm ready to go for a sixth. No doubt about it. I am definitely Pro Joyce.

***

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