Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kelly MacFarland's "Bombshell"

One of the things I've learned in life is it's possible to not really be into something, yet still think it's good and have an appreciation for it. Does that make any sense? Take TV, for example. There are shows I love (Arrested Development), shows I like (The Office), and shows I can't stand with every fiber of my existence (Glee). There are shows that I've never seen and have no interest in seeing (Law & Order and all if its inbred spawn), there are shows I've never seen and judge others for watching them (any show that begins with the word "Battlestar"), and there are shows that I know are good, have heard great things about, have read rave reviews of, yet they're just not something that ever clicked with me (Gilmore Girls, The Good Wife).

The latter is the category where, for me, Kelly MacFarland's debut CD Bombshell fits. She's extremely likable, the crowd is obviously having fun, and as a comic she knows what she's doing and how to work a room...and yet for some reason I just couldn't get on board 100%.

Perhaps it's because the album itself is only 35 minute long and the first 20 minutes are primarily devoted to MacFarland's tales of trying to stay in shape. There are some amusing anecdotes about her battle with self-image ("I lost weight a few years ago and then I was hungry and I was like 'F*** this, I need a cake'"), running a 10k with women she refers to as "The Tinys," and taking a spin class where the bicycle seat meets an unfortunate ending. There are some clever lines and smirk-inducing situations but unfortunately, there are also a lot of gaps for physical comedy that don't translate to an audio-only format. I knew there was something funny happening, MacFarland's audience was clearly enjoying the visuals, but I felt a little left out of the joke. I was like a small kid in a crowd of adults, on my tiptoes, trying to catch a glimpse of the cool parade passing by. The thought running through my head over and over again as the crowd laughed at a gesture..or maybe a face..or perhaps it was just a blank stare held an extra beat for comedic effect, was "Hey, I wanna see!"

Bombshell wraps up with a few enjoyable anecdotes about the different ways people sneeze and also has MacFarland reminiscing about her mother making threats in public to her children through clenched teeth. It was during these final moments when the material branched out into more universal topics when I began to relate and really enjoy the ride. Afterward, I found myself wishing there was more, which isn't a bad thing.

Even though I didn't fall in love with this entire project, I'm not saying it's not good. I can think of a lot of friends of mine who would really enjoy themselves. Some of them are runners. Some of them are trying to stay in shape. All of them are women.

As a side note, after writing this review I went online and watched some video footage of MacFarland's comedy and it makes a big difference. There are some versions of the material that are on this album available on the Rooftop Comedy website that, in my opinoin, are better in the videos than they are on the CD. I don't know if it's because the wording is different or because I can see some of the gestures, but I wish some of the material done in the video would have been used for the audio project. If nothing else, though, it showed me she is indeed a talented performer and I'm looking forward to seeing the next comedy bombshell she delivers.


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