Monday, February 20, 2012

Jake Sharon's "JAke's First Purge"


As explained on the first track of this project, comedian Jake Sharon has been a comic for ten years and he has some material he's grown tired of doing. So, as comedians do, he's decided to round up all of that material, record it, and purge it from his set list, freeing him to move on to new and uncharted territory. Hence the name, JAke's First Purge.

Throughout my listens to the album, I came to understand why Sharon has held on to this material for so long. To put it plainly, it's funny stuff. Whether traditional stand up comedy, audience-including improvisation (his Positive/Negative game is a lot of fun), or excerpts from his podcast(s), Sharon excels and brings with him a real feel of levity.

And really, that's what makes this CD so much fun. It's not the material (although I do like Sharon's writing. On two fat chicks fighting: "They're all punching each other...It sounded like Tupperware closing") as much as it is Sharon himself. He is having a ball, genuinely enjoying what he's doing, and that can't help but spill out into the crowd. When someone is having such a good time it's easy to get sucked in and become a part of the fun.

Sharon is friendly and inviting. His greeting ("Hi. I'm Jake.") is simple, sincere, and welcoming. With those three words we're made to feel safe and at home. It's easy to get comfortable and let your guard down when you know you aren't going to be attacked (unless, of course, you have a turkey laugh. But that's a given). It's apparent that Sharon is comfortable working on the fly and his interactions with the crowd are simultaneously relaxed and entertaining.

The topics covered here span everything from educational children's songs (I'll never again confuse my cake hole with my corn hole) to more adult topics (I love the running kiss-and-tell gag where Sharon reveals people with whom he's made out...and then shares what it tasted like). Sharon has a special knack for talking about "blue" subject matter in a way that doesn't come with that heavy "dirty" feeling hovering over it. I found this surprisingly refreshing and, again, I attribute it to Sharon's lighthearted approach.

Sprinkled throughout the album are introductions to some of the tracks where Sharon breaks the fourth wall and offers a bit of insight and background. He uses these short bumpers to explain that a particular cut was recorded back when he had long hair or when MySpace was still relevant. Although these little asides aren't essential, they are enjoyable and Sharon accentuates each of them with a fun little homemade soundtrack I have since found myself recreating while I perform various tasks throughout my day such as loading the dishwasher or walking to the coffee shop. If you'd like to sing along, it goes a little something like, "La la la, la-la la-la la la...."

Another aspect I really liked about this project is the fact that Sharon left in the imperfections. There are a couple of times where a joke falls flat. There's really no other way to put it. The punch is delivered and Sharon is greeted with a big ol' room-filling silence. And Sharon laughs. It's a real, genuine reaction with which he acknowledges he just blew it, and I liked it. I liked the honesty of the moment and I loved that Sharon embraces it and then carries on.

I hope it's not another ten years before we get another release from Sharon. This project is over an hour long (35 tracks!) and well worth the investment. "JAke's Second Purge: The Re-Purging" is an album I'm already anxious to hear.

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