For any aspiring comedians who may be wondering how to keep an audience on the edge of their seats in rapt attention, I humbly offer up tightrope walker extraordinaire Chris Maddock and his new CD "Point of Entry" for study and analysis. As he maneuvers the wobbly wire of subjects many comics would consider too taboo or dangerous to approach, Maddock never loses his footing once, perilously dancing between funny and just plain wrong. Fortunately for all of us he has a great sense of balance and as things get wronger and wronger they also get funnier and funnier (i.e. Is there really a difference between a Korean baby and one born with Down Syndrome?). You hear the crowd gasp, the high wire shakes a bit...but it's all good. Maddock has obviously done this before.
There's a really fun sensation of exhilaration throughout the project as Maddock crosses the wire, back and forth, back and forth, almost daring the fates to bring their worst. As tricky as things get, though, he is not working without a net and in this metaphor the net is some really good, really solid, and really well-written material.
Maddock doesn't start off safe and wait until the final 15 minutes to ease the crowd into his edgier elements. In fact, Maddock starts right off with a fun bit about circumcision (there's a pun in there somewhere but I'm avoiding it on purpose). "We've gotta cut part of his dick off immediately," Maddock says, playing the part of a parent taking a gift from God for granted, "Quick. Before he has an opinion."
That, coupled with his suspicious awe of the abilities of medical science (Aaliyah's plane went down and all of a sudden Tina Turner has great legs) foreshadows the kind of oh-no-he-didn't humor we're in for and once Maddock has laid the groundwork and set the dinner table, he settles in and makes himself at home. And, because his tales and observations are so hilarious it isn't long before we're laughing -- hard -- even though society has told us time and time again we shouldn't. But honestly, the fact that we shouldn't be laughing is part of the fun.
Listening to this album reminded me of the first time I saw There's Something About Mary. I was laughing my head off and at the same time muttering, "This is so wrong." The wrong-ness, though, lost out to the funny and with Maddock it's the same thing ("If you think I can't call a cat a retard, then you are mentally challenged").
Now that I've spent the first half of this review relaying how un-PC Maddock can be, I should point out that's not his main thrust. He's not solely a "shock comic" by any means and a good chunk of his material is funny not because he's saying things he shouldn't say but because what he's saying is just plain funny. He has a true gift for relating the state of affairs of a number of topics in a fresh way that is dead on. Here are some examples:
- On cops who go for easy targets: "If you arrest Willie Nelson, you should have to write seven good songs. And if you can't, you have to give Willie back."
- When his disapproving mother asks what his new tattoo will look like in 80 years: "Like shit, just like the rest of me. I'll be 80."
- On Bon Jovi: "Nothing rocks like soft yearning...from an adult man...with a Jennifer Aniston haircut."
- On the state of radio: "There are seven songs. We play four them. Here's this one again."
- And, on The Almighty's reaction to the Christian tune "Our God Is An Awesome God": "THEN WHY DIDN'T YOU WRITE ME AN AWESOME SONG?!!"
Maddock has what appears to be an endless well of real-life experiences from which to draw his comedy. He used to have three sisters and now he only has two because, while in her late 20s, "Lynn" became "Linus." The grossest thing about his older sister becoming his older brother? That's right, it's going with the name..."Linus."
This is a comedian who is against comedians pandering to the audience and who, when charged with Felony Ice Sculpture Destruction, nearly had his case tried by a judge who did not look as amazing as his name hinted. He wants to name his son after the two coolest things in the world and he's firm on his stance that people with hickeys probably aren't shopping for the good cheese at grocery stores.
The album concludes with Maddock addressing the advertising trend of "extreme" products and as he tailspins out of control and into a feverish rant, he sounds a little like Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn yelling at each other about soup and the real damage it can do to one's hunger. Maddock's finish is like the grand finale of a fireworks display an an incredible closer to an already-incredible set.
And there you have it, comedians-to-be. If you're looking for a great example of entertaining button-pushing with a passion that never reads as offensive or off-putting, this CD is a great place to start and Chris Maddock is a super...(wait for it)..."Point of Entry."