Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dylan Brody's "A Twist of the Wit"


There are few things in the world I like as much as curling up with a good book on a cold, cold day. Whether it's an elaborate novel or the latest jumbo collection of Dell word puzzles and brain teasers, give me a blanket to wrestle with and some Ghirardelli white chocolate powder to add to my coffee and it doesn't get much better.

That's what it's like listening to A Twist Of The Wit, the newest release from wordsmith Dylan Brody. He's a captivating storyteller with an amazing grasp of language. He doesn't just "say words" but instead uses them the way a composer uses notes, chords, and the perfect instrumentation to construct a symphony. Brody uses stories instead of movements; alliteration and wordplay are his time signature changes and chord modulations.

Brody is an intellectual, of that there's no doubt, but he doesn't talk down to the audience. Instead, he reaches out a hand to lift us up to where he is, to see the world from his point of view, and to take it all in.

I've gotta be honest. It's nice up here.

In a world where it sometimes seems comedians aren't allowed to be the smartest guy in the room (Dance for us, monkey boy!), it's refreshing to spend time with someone who doesn't dismiss a heckler simply by presenting him with a few options of what he can go busy himself with, but instead opts for "What part of 'no extraneous conversation' did you not understand, sir?"

Brody, the self-proclaimed Purveyor of Fine Words and Phrases, doesn't get on stage and tell jokes. He gets on stage and tells stories. Sometimes it takes him a while to get to the story, offering a "deconstructionist introduction to a deconstructionist introduction" here, a tangent there, and soon enough he'll get to where he was headed. But we don't mind the delay because Brody is the epitome of the old adage that it's not the destination, but the journey that makes it worthwhile. We're not working for one big punchline at the end of each anecdote, but instead we're picking up on all of life's little nuances along the way.

There aren't really any "jokes" to be found here, but that's not to say Wit is devoid of humor. Quite the contrary. There's a difference between jokes and humor and the latter is exactly what Brody offers, and he's generous with it. Brody doesn't "do bits" but instead "performs pieces." Comedy is an art form and watching - or in this case listening to - Brody work is witnessing a true artist in peak form.

Whether he's talking about his two dogs and the new owner of "the poopy lawn," a romantic encounter at a supermarket, or a jewelry gift from Steve Allen, Brody has chosen each and every word carefully. Nothing is where it shouldn't be and it's a pristine display of poetic prose perfection.

"The Story of Jeff Spikkhersbrokken and the Man We Will Call Arthur Grey" is a 14-minute marvel. What starts off as a smile-inducing tale about his manager and the writing jobs he brings to the table takes a few twists and turns before morphing into a very sentimental tale about the people Brody has come to know in his life and how fortunate he is to have found them.

Brody has a knack for callbacks, ending his stories where they began. Perhaps it's because of his love of palindromes. Perhaps it's his adoration of structure. Going back to my musical analogy, he's like a composer using recurring musical themes to bring us back to a previous  and familiar phrase, a repeat bar-line for storytelling before bringing us to the coda.

A Twist of the Wit, not unlike a great work of music, can indeed be enjoyed in smaller segments, taking in one track at a time. But when you step back and experience it as a whole, really taking it in, you see it for what it is: a masterpiece.

***

2 comments:

  1. You perfectly captured what makes Dylan Brody my favorite living wordsmith. Thanks for this review!

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  2. It's a brilliant album! Just got it! Already listened to it twice.

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