I've been a fan of Gary Gulman's for some time now and his new album No Can Defend perfectly encapsulates everything I love about his comedy. First of all, he's funny. Really funny. Not just chuckle-to-yourself funny but Interrupting-your-wife-while-she-choreographs-Zumba-routines-so-you-can-play-a-track-for-her funny.
Gulman covers a wide array of topics, many of them subjects that sparkle with nostalgic recognizability. Whether it's the Discman, The Karate Kid, or the Scholastic book club, Gulman beautifully recaptures the highlights we loved about childhood while at the same time pointing out what was so ridiculous about them. True, the books we ordered took a little while to arrive and he also has a point when he postulates on the inanity of Noriyuki "Pat" Morita (the guy who played Mr. Miyagi) and the fact that his nickname is "Pat." But when Gulman hones in on the Discman, particularly his take on the fictional program "VH1's Top 3 Features of the Discman," he really hits a grand slam. As he cycles through options like Bass Boost and Anti-Shock (I won't reveal the #1 feature. You'll just have to tune in for yourself to find out what it is), the laughs are frequent and the laughs are huge.
I love Gulman's phrasing. His structure is fun and unique and begs to be quoted. When he describes Jews as cautious, he declares, "We have every right to be. We've been in a couple of pickles over the years." When he found a movie on TV he explains, "The original Karate Kid is On Demand this month. And Monday night I demanded it."
It doesn't take much to get Gulman going and that's what makes his comedy so fun. I love hearing him become completely unravelled by life's smallest inconveniences. As he comes undone by a water filter he notes, "With a Brita you are always just an hour away from six ounces of lukewarm water" and I lost it when he takes Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz to task for telling the Scarecrow she'll miss him most of all right in front of Lion and Tin Man ("Why don't you get back in line and ask the Wizard for some manners, you twat!").
Sometimes it begins with a simple statement like "I didn't know there was going to be so much typing," Gulman's regret for not paying attention in typing class, especially since we spend most of our day at a keyboard. And speaking of keyboards, well, let's just say none of those symbols are safe as he makes his way down the row, calling out one ridiculous key after another. Who would have known there was so much great comedy to be found in ampersands, semi-colons, and @ signs?
This CD not only treats us to big laughs but also helps us save money in these tough economic times. Whether you're off to buy groceries, catch a movie, or stop to pick up a prescription, Gulman has some valuable money-saving tips to pass your way. And while we're on the topic of petty theft, there's a great story where Gulman recounts the first time he stole something. As his muffin crime escalates into Ocean's 11 proportions, the stakes - and humor - are raised.
Defend is bookended by a couple of tracks that, although equally hilarious, couldn't be further apart thematically. The project begins with a young Gulman trying to process why in the world the Jewish Community Center felt the need to install breakaway basketball rims. When it comes to the number of kids who have shattered a backboard, he simply says, "More 10-year-old Jewish kids have played Chunk in The Goonies." He closes his set with a bit on role playing and shows that, with Gulman, role playing is much more detailed and involved than one might anticipate and it can be a real work of art as long as you don't let eroticism or sex get in the way.
What we have here is a great album I can't recommend highly enough. Or, to put it in a way that will surely infuriate the gods of puns, when it comes to this project I "No Can Recommend.... Highly Enough."
I know. I hate myself, too.