I'm a fan of George Carlin.
To put it more precisely, I'm a fan of his early to mid-career comedy. After that, he kind of dropped off for me. As he got older his comedy got angrier and the angrier he was, the less I laughed. Carlin would shout and yell and scream himself into a frenzy and I would walk away feeling like I just got shouted at and yelled at and screamed at for an hour.
It's not that I don't like "angry" comedy. Some of my favorite comics working today are known for their furiously hilarious anger (Joe DeRosa, Auggie Smith, or Lewis Black come to mind). I also don't write someone off simply because their ideals don't match mine. If someone makes me laugh, then they make me laugh. I don't agree with everything Bill Maher says but he can make me laugh. The same goes with comics like Marc Maron and Bill Burr. There are some topics on which I couldn't disagree with them more, but they still crack me up and it's safe to say they're two of my favorites comics out there today. Funny is funny.
What I'm trying to do here is to re-iterate the fact that just because I don't see eye-to-eye with someone, that doesn't mean I can't appreciate and enjoy their humor. Jumping back to George Carlin for a second, he never really changed what he talked about throughout his career. His stance on drugs, God, religion, the government, the media, and people in general never really wavered. But it was how he got his point across as he got older that caused me to drift. Through the years his rage seemed to lose its comedic slant and the more sincerely angry he became, the less I cared.
Which (finally, I know) brings me to the task at hand: Jamie Kilstein's Libel, Slander & Sedition. I've heard others compare him to Maron or Louis CK, but I propose he's more in the Carlin camp.
Mostly because of all of the yelling.
Kilstein starts off the recording by asking, "Who likes masturbation?" and from that point on he makes it his mission to see how many people he can get to walk out (and yes, a few do. You'd never know it, as they slip out quietly and without incident - for the most part - but Kilstein draws attention to it each time, his voice almost cackling with an evil satisfaction as he taunts and teases them, screaming about the "wave of hate" they're spreading throughout the room).
Toward the beginning of his set, Kilstein has a few bits I enjoyed that were genuinely funny. There's a clever bit on Wal-Mart, its impact on local communities, and the best way to "thank" them for all they've done for the small business owner. There's also a really clever analyzation of one person's claim that Barack Obama is the best president ever.
Up until this point, it's been a fun time and we're in the early-George Carlin phase of the show.
And then...then the screaming really begins.
Apparently Kilstein hates Christians.
In honor of Kilstein and his delivery throughout the entire rest of the album - 54 minutes - I will finish this review typing in all caps. Annoying? Maybe. But perhaps it'll give you a bit of a taste of what it's like at a Kilstein show.
WHERE WAS I?
OH YEA, THAT'S RIGHT! KILSTEIN HATES CHRISTIANS! HE HATES CHRISTIANS AND RELIGION AND GOD AND CHRISTIANS SO MUCH, HE CAN'T HELP BUT WORK HIMSELF UP INTO A FUROR, WHICH IS KIND OF IRONIC CONSIDERING THAT HE TAKES A PAGE OR TWO OUT OF THE TV PREACHER HANDBOOK AND BEGINS TO TALK SO FAST, BARELY STOPPING FOR BREATHS, AND IN SUCH A FRENZY, THAT THE AUDIENCE CAN'T HELP BUT BE WORKED UP JUST LIKE THOSE PREACHERS DO ON TV THAT KILSTEIN HATES SO MUCH. AND THE MORE THE AUDIENCE GETS WORKED UP, THE FASTER KILSTEIN TALKS, AND THE LOUDER HE SHOUTS, THE HOARSER AND HOARSER HIS VOICE BECOMES AND BY THE WAY, HE HATES CHRISTIANS!! WHAT A BUNCH OF DUMMIES!!
OH LOOK!! THERE'S MORE PEOPLE WALKING OUT OF MY SHOW! THEY MUST NOT BE ABLE TO TAKE IT!! HA! YOU GUYS THAT STUCK AROUND ARE THE COOL PEOPLE, THOSE OTHER PEOPLE CAN'T HANDLE THESE TRUTH BOMBS I'M DROPPING!!!! AND, HEY, MAYBE IF I TALK FAST ENOUGH AND USE ENOUGH "IF/THEN" COMPARISONS AND CONVINCE YOU THAT MY INTERPRETATION OF THINGS IS FACT, THEN MAYBE YOU'LL GET EVEN MORE RILED UP AND CHEER LOUDER FOR ME THE NEXT TIME I PAUSE TO TAKE A BREATH WHICH WON'T BE FOR A LITTLE WHILE YET BUT JUST WAIT FOR IT BECAUSE WHEN I DO YOU GUYS ARE GONNA CHEER SO SO LOUD AND BE ON MY SIDE BECAUSE I'M SCREAMING, I'M REALLY SCREAMING HERE, AND IF I'M SCREAMING THIS LOUDLY, THEN I MUST BE RIGHT, AM I RIGHT???!!!!!
OK. I'm gonna stop now. I'm starting to annoy myself.
But did you notice how, as I typed in all caps, I kinda lost control of this review? It stopped becoming a review as much as it just kind of became a pointless rant about nothing. That's what I took away from Kilstein. The louder (and longer) he shouted, the less comedy I heard. It became less about the laughs and more about the crusade.
I fInd it interesting that the louder someone shouts, the less interested I become in what they say. Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's just an "Ed" thing. But it's almost like the crazy guys on the street corner in Manhattan screaming about everyone going to hell. The more red-faced and manic they become, the less credence I give them and soon, despite the volume of their caterwauling, they just kind of fade into the background.
It took George Carlin his entire career to go from hilarious razor-sharp observer to crazy old guy screaming. Jamie Kilstein got there in an hour. I guess maybe I should be impressed, but I don't know. I kinda lost interest. Anyone who screams loud enough will find people to listen to them. They're bound to find people who agree and are like-minded and that's fine.
Me? I'll be over here snickering at the crazy screaming dude on the corner.