The new CD by Ramon Rivas II, High Brow, boasts 23 tracks but don't let that fool you. It only clocks in at 21 minutes long so, needless to say, they come and go pretty quickly. On the night of this particular recording Rivas isn't the headliner of the evening's entertainment; he and his abbreviated set are there to serve as crowd warm-up for a sketch group (I know, I know, it sounds like a bit, and at first I thought it was a joke when it's mentioned in Rivas's introduction).
Rivas is likable and relaxed and the crowd warms up to him quickly. His comedy spans topics like being a Puerto Rican/Mexican mix, white people, and white people dealing with him being Hispanic. He also takes on being from a large family (he's got a lot of fodder to work with), living with his sister and dealing with her horrible niece (Rivas' interaction with her brings the first big laugh of the project), and animal appendages (i.e. dogs with no front legs and cats with robot feet).
Although this album isn't jam-packed with huge laugh-out-loud-applause-breaks, Rivas does maintain a consistent pace and keeps the audience laughing throughout his set. That's not to say that there aren't any big laughs and when Rivas does hit, he hits hard. Likewise, a couple of bits - specifically his new slogans for JoAnn Fabrics - don't always kill, but Rivas is onto something. It may not have served as the best closing material, but Rivas doesn't let the anticlimactic finale throw him.
The final track is Rivas promoting the comedy shows he produces in the Cleveland area and then introducing the next act ("Are you guys ready for some sketch comedy?!") and it seems to be an awkward note to end on. I've listened to a few albums this year that end with the comedian introducing someone else, and I still haven't quite figured out why those introductions are left in the final mix instead of simply fading out audience applause.
High Brow is a decent introduction to a new comic and the fact that Rivas has it available for download on a name-your-own-price basis makes it easier to take a chance on buying an album from someone you may not be familiar with.
High Brow is available for purchase online.