If you aren't familiar with comedian Tommy Ryman, then by all means it's time to hop in the tub.
Bath Time with Tommy Ryman is a fun project from a comedian whose zealous energy and eager optimism make for solid laughs. Ryman looks -- and sounds -- much younger than his age (he tells us he's 26) and he approaches comedy knowing full well he's a book who's going to be judged based on the cover. Ryman knows he doesn't look his age and the choices he makes on approaching the topic are all smart ones. He could have played against type a la Roger Rabbit's adorable-yet-gruff cigar-smoking Baby Herman but that probably would have been a little predictable. Instead, Ryman plays right along with our first impression of him as he confesses he still goes to the park dressed in a Little League baseball outfit and asks people if they've seen his dad ("Have you seen him? He said 4:00.").
Ryman's friendly outlook and positive demeanor almost immediately endears him to the crowd. His tone is wide-eyed and hopeful and he relates stories with the enthusiasm of a young child telling you all about his vacation to New York City. At times his delivery is reminiscent of a young David Spade if David Spade wasn't bitter, snarky, and fed up with everyone. Instead, Ryman holds out his hand to the listener with a big smile as if to playfully say, "Come on, you guys, I wanna show you somethin'!"
Of course, we follow Ryman as he goes bounding through the forest, pointing out all sorts of cool things he's discovered along his journey thus far. And yes, the things he has to show us are well worth the occasional vine or tree branch that may snag your foot and momentarily trip you up along the way.
His parents' divorce, being dumped by his girlfriend at the zoo, and being attacked by pirates; heavy topics that might otherwise bring the mood down and send the comic into a spiral of self-pity and depression. Not Ryman. It'll take more than this to get him down, mostly because the events -- as overwhelming as they can be -- are also accompanied by a silver lining. There's still plenty of cereal, the pirates have on life jackets, and at least the monkeys look like they're having fun.
There are a couple of spots on the album that are still a little rough around the edges. Ryman has a few bits that are close to being there, he's just about got it, but he's not quite there just yet. For example, the story about his mother coming out of the closet is great and Ryman gets big laughs with it, but the final moments of the bit drop off and fizzle out. Things get quiet for a couple of moments but Ryman does what any good comedian does, and he carries on. Although he slips up and loses his footing for a few seconds, it doesn't faze him in the least and he's recovered and back on track in no time.
One thing I really liked about this album is how light it is. There are some comedians whose work I enjoy but afterward, I feel like I need to take a nap. Ryman doesn't mess with politics, religion, and other subjects you shy away from when the in-laws are around. He keeps it simple and breezy, and I appreciate that. This may not sound like a compliment but when I say I like that I can listen to Ryman without having to think, I mean it in the best possible way. It's not a bad thing at all and I get into and appreciate the lighter comics just as much as the intellectual heady guy next door. I enjoy PBS's Masterpiece Mystery series, but sometimes I prefer Community. I've gotten a few good nuggets out of C.S. Lewis's writings but it's usually with more than a bit of effort and when I just want to relax and unwind, I have nothing against re-reading my favorite Stephen King novel.
Likewise, I love - love - listening to comedians who make me think. Guys like Lewis Black, Dennis Miller, and Marc Maron bring up some valid points about important issues but sometimes...sometimes you just wanna light a few candles, turn off the phone, and get away.
And what better way to spend that down time than by having a little Bath Time with Tommy Ryman.