Brian Scott McFadden's What Women Want is an album from a by-the-numbers stand-up comedian. He hits all of his marks, he has the standard classic stand-up comedian delivery and timing, he has all of the basic comedy topics covered (women are confusing, New Yorkers are strange, guys are horny, I have an Eddie Murphy impersonation), he even has the standard "Oh yeah" catchphrase (pronounced "Oh Yayyy-uh") he likes to toss around here and there.
But I wanted more...I wanted him to push it just a little further and break out of that standard comedian stereotype. The album artwork features a photo of McFadden on marionette strings and that's not entirely off-base. Part of me felt like he was being controlled by what he felt a comedian should be like, rather than cutting those strings to find his own unique voice.
When McFadden does break out, he's really clicking. He starts off strong with a quick bit on how women find a man with a sense of humor attractive - as long as he's good looking - and mentions one of the weirdest compliments he's gotten ("Brian, you get better looking as I get to know you").
The title track is another high point as McFadden points out the various contradictions in what women seek in men. The final cut, "CNN Guy", is easily the best bit on the album as the British-voiced guy who narrates every human disaster story is recreated with pinpoint accuracy.
Overall, though, the rest of the album feels a bit flat and restrained and I felt myself pulling for McFadden to just let go and let the funny flow.
McFadden has a bit on "Segues" where he talks about a comic's ability to move masterfully from one topic to another. I found this a little ironic, as not all of the tracks flow smoothly from one bit to the next. The transition between a couple of the bits is rough; at one point, the volume and intensity of the audience's laughter abruptly changes, indicating an obvious edit. I'm probably being nit-picky, I admit, but as someone who works in the audio editing field by day, those things stand out to me.
If stand-up comedians were compared to artistic styles, it could be said Brian Scott McFadden is like someone who's really good at color-by-number. His trees are green just the way they should be, he follows all of the rules step-by-step, and his crayons stay perfectly inside the lines. I just wish he would venture outside of those lines and bend the rules a little more frequently. Color a tree purple. Draw a monkey wearing a football helmet, even though it's not supposed to be there. Anyone can make a picture look nice and neat; it's the random scribbles that make it interesting.