When I was living in New York City I saw a lot of sketch comedy. Unfortunately, I didn't see a lot of good sketch comedy. For every brilliant production like The Chris and Paul Show, you have 50 troupes who aren't nearly as funny as they think they are. They have the drive and the dedication and the energy but what they lack is the humor. And for a sketch comedy troupe, that's not the best place to be. When it comes to writing, many of them often exchange funny for random, thinking it's the same thing. When they can't come up with a solid punchline or tag they instead go with something out of left field, hoping laughter will be found in the outrageousness of the situation. Can't find a good ending for a father/son sketch? What if the dad reveals he's actually a banana and the son commits suicide by overdosing on Post-It Notes? I'm sure there are some people who may find that amusing and more likely than not those who find that grab bag approach particularly gut-busting are probably the same people who adore the high humor found in Mad Libs.
Enter: Cirque du So What's Stupid Cowboy Thing Volume 2: Additional Squid. The title alone (Look how zany we are!) pretty much lets you know what you're in for and if that doesn't set the tone for you, the very first track will. It's a short, 30-second "sketch" that goes a little something like this:
To be read in an over-the-top silly voice.
MAN #1: Where are you going?
MAN #2: I'm a Republican, I'm off to buy a gun!
MAN #1: Neat! I'm a Democrat and I'm off to get an abortion!
That's pretty much what you'll get throughout the rest of the album. Kuh-raaaaaaaaaazy situations (an open letter to a waffle iron!), waaaaaaaacky character names (a baseball team named The Dung Beetles and their star player named -- wait for it -- SNERD FLINGSTRING!), and lots and lots of sketches that are basically super-long setups for jokes without much payoff (Really? A six-minute bit that spends the first five setting up the Fair Artists Performance Act just so they can talk about people "FAP-ing?"). I can almost hear them snickering at their own cleverness from here.
The performers do a manageable job, although they really seem to think that the more something is overacted, they funnier it is. There is no such thing here as approaching the sketch with a sense of realism, something that is vital for comedy to play correctly. When it's time for someone to make a long speech it becomes quite apparent they're reading straight from the script and it drains the spontaneity from the scene.
Near the middle of the CD they decided to do celebrity impressions and I thought maybe perhaps I would finally hear something that, even if it didn't make me laugh, might at least be sort of impressive. Imagine my disappointment when they announced the celebs being lampooned included Bill Cosby, Fran Drescher, William Shatner, Christopher Walken, Pee Wee Herman, and -- of course -- Arnold Schwarzeneggar. In other words, they chose to impersonate celebrities that everyone in the world impersonates. What really struck me is that despite the fact that pretty much anyone can do the voice of any of the previously mentioned stars, the gang here more certainly cannot. Seriously. They're pretty bad.
All that being said, I can't help but get the feeling that the "So What" crew thinks they are super crazy funny and I'm sure their close friends and relatives do, too (or at least pretend to).If, however, you aren't a personal acquaintance or relative of one of the cast members, you shouldn't feel any guilt in passing this one over. Don't make eye contact, just...keep moving along.