There are two different facets to Nato Green and, as a result, his album The Nato Green Party. He begins as a wry comedian and midway through morphs into a union organizer. Green sometimes refers to himself as a political comedian but for the most part he operates strictly in either Comic Mode or Activist Mode. When the two operating systems intersect, the big laughs are hard to find.
That very point was my biggest stumbling block with this CD. When Green is playing the role of the comedian, his humor is solid and he keeps the crowd captivated. As he clicks over into activism the humor dips and Green's energy seems to suffer the same fate. As the agenda of his message took precedence over his desire to make people laugh I found myself tuning out. I don't think I was the only one whose interest waned as his audience also became notably quieter, big laughs and rounds of applause being exchanged for smatterings of whoops and the occasional handful of people clapping in support of the cause.
The first six tracks of the CD are enjoyable enough. That's not to say there are no humorous anecdotes in the latter half of the album, but the focus definitely shifts away from laughs as we get further and further in. His story about encountering another's symbol of good luck makes for a great tale of stereotypical Left Coast self-involvement and his ability to justify overeating is pretty impressive.
For me, though, the comedy portion of the show ends too soon as Green slips on his Union Organizer hat. It's interesting to note that as he speaks on something he's very passionate about, his level of energy and enthusiasm fades. I did enjoy his bit on why it makes sense to use Nazis as the poster children for not following through but the overall vibe ends up playing less like a stand up comedian and more like a CSPAN talking head who throws in a witty observation here and there.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. It just so happens that I'm not Green's target audience. I don't have anything against political humor but what's happening here can probably be more accurately described as political activist humor.
At one point Green states, "Some of these are jokes, some are tips for revolution." He couldn't have summed it up better and that being the case lands me directly outside of his core demographic. I'm not looking for a revolution and I'm not interested in making a sign. When it comes to comedy, I just wanna laugh.