Friday, February 24, 2012

Bryan Bruner's "Welcome to Djibouti"


If life is a highway, then Bryan Bruner is a pretty safe driver. On his album Welcome to Djibouti, he steers us through life's little road bumps cautiously, his hands firmly on the wheel at 10 and 2 (mostly because he's trying to compensate for the fact he's probably amid a marijuana high). The real question, though, is whether or not this is the sort of ride you prefer.

If you prefer your comedy reckless and pulse-pounding with hairpin curves taken on two wheels, Bruner probably isn't the comedian for you. There are a few turns here and there, but Bruner turns on his blinker well before we get there, signaling the change in direction and taking away any real element of surprise.

The album starts off promisingly enough with a humorous explanation of why single people in bars are like clothes from factory outlet malls and what it would be like to party with NFL players. After that, though, the album seems to plateau and continue from there at the same level.

There are plenty of interesting launch points from which Bruner could take off (working for the FDNY, touring with a little person, and his sincere love of the aforementioned cannibas plant), but for the most part they simply remain as nice premises without a real punch. His bit on the midget has a funny visual near the end, but it's a 7-minute cut, and the laughter is definitely not proportionate to the time it takes to get there.

Bruner talks about being a pothead with pride and I fear his love for weed may have dulled his comedic sensibilities. Instead of emulating someone like Doug Benson, arguably one of the funniest and most famous pro-weed comedians working today, his stories end up being just that: Stories. They're interesting enough but there's not much payoff when it comes to big laughs.

There are a few times when Bruner displays passion, but to be honest it's hard to empathize with him because the things that set him off...well...probably shouldn't. When he sends a Facebook friend request to a guy who shares the same name, the alternate Bryan Bruner responds with an understandable response to a complete stranger: "Who is this?" Comedian Bryan Bruner flips out. I'm still not sure why. When he overdraws his bank account and is hit with late fees, he starts a Twitter campaign railing against Bank of America claiming they are responsible for the AIDS virus. I'm still not sure why. And when he made the obligatory "it's dudes catching crabs" Deadliest Catch joke, I didn't wonder why, I just wanted something that had a little more effort behind it.

For the most part, this album seemed to be comedy done via the safest route. It's the difference between a leisurely drive through the Indiana countryside and tooling along the winding, ever-shifting road on the cliffs of Palos Verdes. Bruner's humor is more of the former than the latter. It's a pleasurable enough ride, but there's no risk. No cliffs, just corn.

***

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