Monday, July 23, 2012

Todd Barry's "Super Crazy"

It's been four years since Todd Barry's last release and to say I was excited to see the return of the master of soft-spoken sarcasm would be an understatement. In past reviews, I've mentioned how anticipating projects from comics of whom I am a fan made me nervous, hoping against hope that my mile-high expectations wouldn't be let down. With Super Crazy, that wasn't the case. I've been following Barry for nearly ten years and he is the epitome of consistent hilarity. I wasn't concerned with whether or not this CD would be as funny as his past releases because, quite honestly, I knew it would be. Barry has always been able to make me laugh and this time around is certainly no exception.

With his low-energy onstage persona, Barry makes comedy look effortless (it isn't, but he makes it look like it is). That comfortable vibe shouldn't be dismissed or taken for granted. Like The Babe's swing or the way dialogue flows from Tarantino, the fact that it looks and feels so easy is a testament to the natural talent Barry possesses. If anyone has "it," it's Barry, and he doesn't feel the need to hit you over the head with it. Where some comics come at you with a bazooka or machine gun full of comedy, Barry is more of a sniper.

As horrible as it sounds to say, Barry is one of those comedians to whom I enjoy watching unfortunate things happen if for no other reason than I can't wait to see how he'll react. Even something as innocuous as ordering a two-ingredient drink or trying to install an update on his phone comes with booby traps lurking around every corner.

A common tactic in comedy is to focus on the little details of life and zero in on them, often times finding humor by making mountains out of molehills. Barry excels in a slightly different approach, instead setting his sites on others who are astounded and amazed by everyday minutiae: Apartment rental postings that boast about a bathroom with white tile (white tile!!) and the very existence of a message board devoted to giving feedback on deodorant. Barry loves how insistent we have become with ordering a water with lemon while dining out (or, at least, he loves commenting on it) and he pulls back the curtain on money-saving travel tips by calling them what they actually are: misdemeanor burglaries.

Although Barry's sarcasm is laced with a bit of devilish eyebrow-arching deviousness, he isn't mean-spirited or offensive. Instead of going off on nurses for telling him the world's worst joke or taking food snobs to task for bragging about their grandmother's pasta recipe, Barry does the decent thing and holds his tongue. And then he talks about them behind their back to a roomful of strangers for laughs. I can respect that approach.

Barry, a self-proclaimed lazy germophobe, is especially funny when he approaches subjects with nothing more that logical common sense. When confronted by Viagra ads imploring him to visit their website for tips on how to ask for a prescription, he offers his own outrageous suggestion that starts off with, "Hey still a doctor?" It's just one example of how Barry finds the biggest laughs in basic simplicity.

When it comes to innovative ideas and suggestions, Barry is a rich source, especially when improving the Kansas City airport's cell phone-friendly dining guide (you're welcome) and an incredibly genius practical joke that I won't even try to explain (or risk spoiling) here.

This project is, quite simply, a great one with lots of moments that made me laugh out loud and I'm hoping it's not another four years before his next album. To be fair, if I said this one wasn't worth the wait, well...that would be super crazy.

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