Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rachel Feinstein's "Thug Tears"

If life is a highway then I think it's fair to say we all have different approaches to the journey. On her album Thug Tears , Rachel Feinstein proves she is nothing short of one heck of a driver. "Road rage" doesn't quite describe her because she's not angry, but she is what I would call "aggressive behind the wheel."

Some people take extra care to make sure the children riding along are safe and secure in the minivan, strapped snugly into their car seats. Feinstein, however, could give a crap about safety; we've got places to go and we're going there now.

On stage Feinstein doesn't waste any time with a "get to know me" phase. Some comedians will start off with a few underhand pitches to get the crowd warmed up and to get a feel for the room...what they can -- and can't -- get away with right off the bat and what will have to be saved for later when the audience is more comfortable.

That's not the way Feinstein drives.

She grabs the kids by the neck, throws them in the back seat and floors it. If they're not buckled in by the time we hit speed bumps doing 85 MPH, then it's their own fault.

For the most part, this works and her recklessness only adds to the adventure. Feinstein is quite adept at keeping her passengers entertained and the handful of times she hits a loose patch of gravel and fishtails a bit, she is able to retain control and keep zipping along.

Generally speaking, Feinstein's material is culled from any combination of four different sources: Men, funny voices, her mother, and the word tits. These four wells provide a vast supply of laughs and anecdotes and Feinstein mixes up  how many of these she'll incorporate into a joke (sometimes all four at once).

The risk Feinstein runs by returning to the same touchstones over and over again is the feeling of draining the wells dry and tempting the gods of "been there, done that." The first few times she employs her 1940s-inspired high-pitched Naive Girl voice, it's genuinely funny. Each time we go back to it, though, it loses a bit of its luster. It put me in mind of Jim Gaffigan's falsetto Voice Of The Audience Member gimmick. Personally, I'm not bothered by it, but for some people a little goes a long way and it's no different here. You'll either love it more and more each time we return to it (the catchphrase for this album is pretty much a squeaky-voiced "My tits are scared") or you'll be ready to move on.

The world is littered with annoyances that set Feinstein off, perhaps none moreso than douches (basically, men) and her mom. I found it entertainingly ironic that Feinstein explains her mom and grandmother have two of the most annoying voices on the planet, yet the more riled up Feinstein gets, the more her own voice takes on the very qualities with which she is annoyed.

Her family (I think) is the source of Feinstein's best material, especially when she's outing her mother's love of Navajo jewelry, explaining her father's John McCain shirt awarded to him by frugality, or exposing her own childhood game that very understandably had her parents concerned (My tits are scared. Again).

At the end of your Feinstein ride-along you may find your hair a bit mussed, your outlook on Vegas a bit askew, and your tits a bit scared. With Feinstein, life isn't just a highway. It's mostly off-roading.

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