The relatively short (only 25 minutes) yet more-than-satisfying new project from Jonah Ray, "Hello, Mr. Magic Plane Person, Hello" is a great example of what can be done in a half hour. Although it's not a full set (in this recording Ray is serving as an opener for the brilliant Anthony Jeselnik), we are served up as many laughs as if he was headlining.
From the moment he takes the stage ("Let's talk about drinkin'!") Ray has the crowd in the palm of his hand and never once releases them from his comedic grip. And speaking of...um..."grips"...the bulk of the comedy presented here has to do with alcohol -- and which selections are worth taking home for the night -- and his nearly-perfect plan to find some "personal time" while he was dating his ex. Although these adventures tend to go "blue," Ray takes care to not go so far as to alienate the crowd. Yes, he straddles the line but he also makes sure he stays on the funny side.
When he's not explaining how pets can most definitely sabotage one's carefully thought out plans, Ray takes delight in explaining why TJ Maxx is not the right choice for the name of a clothing chain and why everyone is in for a special treat if he's ever struck by lightning. While all of this is going on he also ensures the proceedings don't devolve into a full-blown Town Hall Meeting on Alien Nation (You had to be there).
The project concludes with the introduction of Jeselnik, who provides the perfect button. It's a great callback that reminds us how much laughter Ray gave us while simultaneously serving as a cutting commentary on his set. And he does it in just one sentence. Ray and Jeselnik are a great double-billing and left me smiling. Well played, guys. Well played.