Friday, April 20, 2012

Donald Glover's "Weirdo"

Well, check off "Stand Up Comedy" on your list of things Donald Glover is awesome at. Not only has he proven himself as a force to be reckoned with in the rap world under the pseudonym Childish Gambino and not only is he a cast member of what I consider to be the funniest, best-written sitcom currently on the air (despite what awards ceremonies, "Glee" fans, or his "Community" co-star Chevy Chase may say) but with the release of his brilliant project "Weirdo" he can add "comedian" to his multi-hyphenate with no reservation.

To put it much more succinctly, this CD cracked. Me. Up.

The album begins with Glover giving us a warning of sorts: If you only know him as the first half of the "Troy and Abed" dynamic duo, you may be in for a shock, as what's about to unfold is going to get gross. It's a bit of a mislead, though, because it made me wonder if we were in for some sort of Jim Norton-esque festival of filth. In all honestly the warning is just for show and everything is totally fine. Yes, the last track is about a childhood adventure at Home Depot that took place in the toilet section and yes, he has a track simply called "Poop" but it's all done with an almost-innocent approach and he isn't graphic or actually...gross.

Although the title of this project seems to infer that Glover is the "weirdo" I would beg to differ. If nothing else, in each of his bits he's just a normal guy reacting to the weird stuff around him, whether it's the story of Santa Claus, a friend's plan for avoiding being attacked, or the basic concept behind the Muppet Babies.

Glover can be likened to a young Bill Cosby (except he isn't afraid of spicing his material up with swear words), wherein his comedy is rooted in the telling of tales rather than stringing one-liner after one-liner. Each story is just as entertaining as the next, all of them whimsically crafted and told with vivacity. I'm not naïve enough to believe that everything Glover says happened exactly the way he recounts it without exaggeration, but because each adventure is rooted in believability it heightens the stakes and the laughs are amped up as a result. Examples of this include the time his mother actually gave in and allowed Cocoa Puffs in the house or the time he got punched in the face by a bum while leaving someone a voicemail. Each of Glover's escapades will leave you laughing until it hurts.

Occasionally Glover strays from a narrative structure and confronts issues head-on (the "N" word, relationships, why having AIDS is better than having kids) and he hits a home run each time. Not only are his insights fresh and original (again...AIDS is better than having kids) but the more he believes in something, the more passionate he feels, the higher his voice gets and the more animated his commitment becomes. It all swirls and combines into a perfect storm of comedy.

The hour of sincere laughter found on this album is - as hokey and overused as the phrase may be - a breath of fresh air. Glover's childlike energy and enthusiasm are infectious and you can't walk away from listening without a smile on your face and a chuckle on your lips as you think back on the humor you just experienced. 

And if walking down the street chuckling to myself makes me a "weirdo" then so be it. I wear the name with pride.

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