The title of the new(est) album from Jim Tews, Total Comedian, says it all.
Tews is indeed the complete package. He's comfortable on stage and his demeanor is one of easy-going honesty. Tews isn't your stereotypical comedian as is often portrayed - quite incorrectly, I might add - on television and in the movies. He isn't the in-your-face wacky guy bouncing off the walls as part of a This-Is-Gonna-Get-Old-Fast persona. Quite the contrary, Tews's comedy is down-to-earth and approachable. He's not a guy on stage telling jokes, but someone you bumped into at the bar with some good stories to share.
One of the things I like about Tews is the fact that he isn't afraid to admit he's not perfect; he's just as flawed as the rest of us. There are some comedians who tend to float about on stage as if they are untouchable, safely cushioned by their millions of dollars from record and movie deals and aren't affected by anything this world has to dish out. Tews wisely avoids that approach and lets us know he's one of us. He feels the crunch of the economy. He knows what it's like to ask a woman if she wants to move things to the bed and then proceed to unfold the futon. He's been busted by his landlord for not paying rent (Facebook status updates ruin everything!) and he's written more than a few bad checks (But at least they come with an entertaining note in the "memo" section, like, "Hurry up and cash this, it's a race between you and the phone company!"). Tew's story of the time he went to the bank to dispute overdraft fees is one of my favorites on the album.
It's not just financial woes that serve as a catalyst for awkward moments with others. Tews manages to find all sorts of creative ways to wind up in uncomfortable situations. There's the time he ran into his ex-girlfriend in a store (or, more accurately, decided not to run into her after spying her purchase), his get-it-out-of-the-way moment with a roommate, and my personal favorite, the time he broke up with his British girlfriend (and the best time of year to do it).
Tews is very honest and open about his imperfections and shortcomings, each track providing yet another reason why he wouldn't make a someone a good boyfriend/husband/dad, yet he still doesn't come across as unlikable or victimized. Circumstances just happen to be the way they are and Tews has accepted it all in stride. His willingness to laugh at his blemishes with us only endears us to him more and you can't help rooting for Tews to come out on top in the end.
There are a couple of slow spots here and there and one time in particular when a joke didn't hit the way Tews intended and it felt like the wheels were going to fall off, if only for a moment. However, Tews manages to get it together and he never comes across as thrown off or in over his head. If he ever felt like he was in trouble, he certainly didn't let on, and it wasn't long before he had the crowd with him once again and everything under control. Missteps like those are few, though, and certainly don't detract from the overall enjoyment of the album.
Clocking in at 35 minutes, Total Comedian is a nice introduction to a comedian you probably aren't familiar with.
And if you're like me, you'll find yourself wondering why he hasn't broken.
After all, he is a total comedian.