Monday, April 18, 2011

Brad Williams's "Coming Up Short"


There are a few things Brad Williams would like you to know:
  1. He's not Wee Man.
  2. We should all be a little more willing to laugh at ourselves (and each other).
  3. He loves being the person to bring that laughter.
  4. Forget what you've heard from the PC Patrol. As far as he's concerned, the correct term is midget.

I could go on (he hates being picked up, there's a reason he doesn't swim, he's sticking with midget sex), but you get the point. When it comes to giving us an education on the life of a dwarf - sorry...midget - Williams's new CD Coming Up Short more than delivers.

Williams is a guy who isn't afraid to make himself the butt of the joke, and his approach to comedy is a smart one. As someone who may be prone to heckles or jibes because of his size, he cuts those remarks off at the pass by being the first one to say them. Don't even bother trying to come up with an Oompa Loompa comment, a leprechaun joke, or a Lord of the Rings comparison to try to throw him off. Williams has beaten everyone to the punch and I'm willing to bet his observations are much wittier.

Whether he's lamenting the fact that he doesn't have any clever, rhyming pick-up lines, telling you which reality shows he loves and which ones he hates, or giving the ultimate proof of why his arms really are short, Williams is a passionate comedian with some truly funny observations whose spark is fueled by what he witnesses around him.

By that same token, his surroundings are also what gives him the drive to keep doing what he does. His passion for helping everyone see the laughter in the world around us is sincere and when he explains how embracing humor can make us all better people, we're on his side.

Of course, one of the things that may stand out is Williams's willingness to throw out "The M Word" without giving it a second thought. Personally, I've never understood why "midget" is more offensive than "dwarf" or "little person" but always just figured I'd never fully understand it and shrugged it off with a "Well, who am I to say". Williams is in the exact same boat. He talks about confronting a group of protesters after one of his shows and it makes for a great story, which can be encapsulated by a simple three-word quote: "I hate midgets."

When Williams takes on the deaf community, he comes at them with both barrels loaded. He's upset with them and, as it turns out, he may have good reason. This particular track on the CD was a little frustrating for me as a listener, since the majority of the material deals with sign language and the less-than-flattering ASL signs for words such as "dwarf" and "retarded." Audio mediums aren't very forgiving to sight gags and much of my time was spent wondering what was happening. When Williams gives a frustrated example of what the sign is for certain words and what the sign should be for others, the set-up is followed by a few moments of silence, followed by laughter, and I was left wishing I knew what I was missing out on.

Finally, for those of you who have wondered what sex is like for - and with - a dwarf, well...Williams is more than happy to talk about that, too. And he doesn't just talk about it; he takes you there in all of its glory. He has examples, stories, tips, suggestions, and warnings. He tells you what's good, what works, and caps it all off with a rousing climax (in every sense of the word) that leaves the audience howling.

By all accounts, Williams has accomplished what he set out to do. For 50 minutes he made the world a better place by making us laugh. He united a room full of strangers by telling jokes about himself...and us. He let us know that it's OK to laugh at the things in life that strike us as funny.

In fact, it seems the only thing Brad Williams didn't do on Coming Up Short...was come up short.

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