Tough Luck Chump is the new DVD release from Mike Stanley, a comedian who is three parts Dave Attell, one part Bill Burr, and one part Dave Attell.
It's pretty common for comics who haven't yet discovered their own voice to emulate those whom they admire and have studied for years. That's not a bad thing; it's natural. It's just that Stanley really sounds like Dave Attell.
I freely admit I could be completely off-base in my theory that Stanley is an avid fan of Attell and, hence, has subconsciously picked up some of his nuances, but I found the similarities uncanny. Stanley's timing, delivery, and inflection are almost eerily identical (right down to including Attell's "Dumb Guy" voice) and there are moments that, if I closed my eyes, I couldn't differentiate between the two.
Most comedians who have been around for years and years can look back at their earliest work and point out inflection, tone, or gestures that were influenced by their comedy heroes. It's not the best example in the world, but even the old tapes of my performances in high school plays are teeming with Steve Martin references (Endless viewings of The Jerk and spending hours upon hours upon hours listening to A Wild and Crazy Guy tend to have that effect).
I don't hold the fact that Chump sounds like a lost Attell album against Stanley. I'm just really pulling for Stanley to find a voice that's his own and grow into it. Again, I could be completely mistaken. For all I know, this is Stanley and the fact he reminds me of someone could very well just be circumstance. If that's the case, I'll be the first to admit I'm full of it (And to be honest, even if it's not the case, there's a very good chance I'm still full of it).
One thing that I do know after giving Chump a few spins is this: There's a lot of stuff that pisses off Stanley. It doesn't take much to send him off the handle, whether it's children with cell phones, Planned Parenthood, or guys who lie about the size of their junk. Oh yea, I almost forgot. He hates, hates, hates Indiana. He hates everything about it. I don't know what happened to him in Indiana, but good Lord, he hates Indiana.
Stanley has some really fun premises that I would love to see him explore even deeper but he tends to wrap them up and ground them with an Attell-esque throwaway remark before they really get a chance to soar. At one point Stanley asks the crowd if they knew you could get a DUI while riding a bicycle and I was looking forward to hearing the tale of how Stanley discovered this fact. Instead he abandons the premise completely and transitions into something completely different. It left me wishing we hadn't moved on so fast. What about the bike DUI? I wanna hear that story!
Although Chump didn't bring many big laughs for me it's not for any lack of trying. In fact, I wonder if maybe sometimes he's not trying too hard. When he's not abandoning an anecdote before it really gets humming, he sometimes conjures up a lengthy setup just to get to a punchline whose payoff isn't proportionate to the time it took to get there. We follow his story of hooking up with a female bowler for quite a while before we finally get to the anticlimactic and sort-of predictable She Did Me Three Times, That's A Turkey! punchline.
As far as I could find, this release is available only on DVD and not as a CD/MP3 format. Hopefully, Stanley will make an audio version of the project available for people who may not want to drop $20. Otherwise, the title Tough Luck Chump takes on a whole new meaning.
UPDATE (7/7/11) - I've been informed this project will indeed be released as an audio format. Stay tuned to Stand Up! Records for information and release dates.
UPDATE #2 (9/10/11) - This project is now available in audio format and you can check it out right here.