Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Sklar Brothers' "Hendersons and Daughters"

After my first listen to the new album from The Sklar Brothers, Hendersons and Daughters, I felt compelled to write an email to their record label requesting a warning sticker be added to the CD. Maybe something along the lines of:
Listening to this album in the gym
while on the treadmill
may cause you to lose your footing
and almost fall off multiple times
making you look like an idiot
in front of strangers. 

It's true. 

The back-and-forth between the brothers Sklar is so hilarious and cleverly-timed, each of them volleying back and forth with one killer aside after another, that on three separate occasions I just about bit it.

The Sklars work perfectly together, their rapid-fire exchange flows like a finely-tuned precision machine. They have perfected the craft of being able to talk over one another without taking away from what the other is saying. Their conversations aren't unlike something you'd find on Curb Your Enthusiasm or It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Although there are moments when everyone is speaking at the same time, you're still able to hear and process everything that's being said. And everything everyone is saying is funny. It's almost comedy overload, but in a good way.

True, there are only two Sklars at work here, but they so seamlessly move in and out of various personalities, first explaining the premise and then acting it out, it's like you're listening to a full-on cast. The Sklars' ability to slip in and out of re-enactments so quickly can be a bit jarring at first, especially on an audio project, as the timbre of their voices is so similar it can take a second or two for you to pick up on which of them is talking - or that they've slipped into characters at all.

The only other aspect that may take a few minutes to get used to is they speak in plural possessive. Instead of "Here's what I saw" or "I was playing with my kid" one of the brothers will begin the setup with "Here's what we saw" or "We were playing with our kids."

Don't worry though. Those aren't even criticisms, just minor adjustments you'll get used to that comes with the territory of listening to a comedy team rather than a single person on stage. The bonus is the fact that because these are two really funny guys working together, we're pretty much guaranteed to hear fresh approaches to every topic they tackle. Other comics can do quick re-enactments of a situation, but not the way the Sklars can. Having two guys on stage allows them to have an actual conversation, overlap sentences, and - when called for - speak in unison to hammer a point home.

The show begins with a great bit on Google and the disturbingly violent tendencies of its search engine powers and immediately you can see how well these two work off of one another. They work so well together (they're twins, so it's almost cheating) I couldn't help but think of the last time I heard a comic duo gel like this. Sure, there have been some great comedy teams over the years like Cheech & Chong and Brooks & Reiner's 2000 Year-Old Man, but if you want to find a pairing who bring as many consistent laughs as The Sklar Brothers, who flows the way they do, who makes conversation sound like actual conversation, and who branch off into simultaneous rants yet still manage to converge and meet back on the same word in a way that would make David Addison and Maddie Hayes take notice, you'd have to go all the way back to Abbott & Costello.

As iconic and (still) hilarious as Abbott & Costello are (were?), The Sklar Brothers have one thing in their arsenal that sets them apart and beyond. They will take something as simple as a nursery rhyme - in this case, "Five Little Monkeys" - and marvel at how popular it is. After they've set the stage and gotten some good laughs out of it, they will then become the characters (in this case, the doctor on the phone who is inundated with calls about jumping monkeys) and explain how insane the idea of it is by acting it out as if it actually happened in the real world. (This bit, by the way, is one of the bits that almost caused me to experience true treadmill fail.)

This same approach kills every time, whether they're taking the roles of Hoarder & Hoarder Psychologist, Arnold Schwarzenegger & Off-Camera Film Crew, or Snow White & Her Princely Husband not living happily ever after. The Sklars have managed to take the subtle nuances that occur between two people, regardless of their relationship to one another, and shine a spotlight on them; they're the little quirks we all recognize but probably never consciously made note of. Until now.

The Sklars don't only bring big funny when they're in the skin of other characters. They also take on topics as themselves with the skill of a well-seasoned news team, albeit a team that prefers to report on Margaret Cho as Mr. Miyagi in a Karate Kid remake or what racist hats would look like.

Simply put, Hendersons and Daughters is an amazing project packed with tons of laughs. There are no "Let's skip this one" tracks to be found and the humor doesn't diminish an iota with repeated listenings.

In closing, the only negative aspect I could come up with about the Sklars being a brother/comedy team is the fact that there are two of them instead of one. That means they have to split the profits they make from their record sales, and that bums me out. So much funny for half the money? Dude(s), that sucks.

Fortunately, I've come up with a solution, and it's a pretty simple one: Buy the album twice.


1 comment:

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