Monday, August 13, 2012

Mark Poolos's "Unbridled Enthusiasm"

I love bonus features. In fact, when it comes to purchasing DVDs and Blu-Rays, it's fair to say my final decision on which ones I take home is based more on the extra footage contained on the disc than the movie itself. Needless to say, if there are no bonus features, I won't even bother. On the flip side...I love Pixar.

When it comes to audio projects, there's not really much to offer in the way of additional material. There never really has been. Once in a while a band will include an "exclusive" bonus video on the disc to entice undecided buyers (a video that you can probably find on YouTube, anyhow) or a special bonus fold-out poster that no one cares about (what am I, looking for material with which to decorate a high school locker?), but in general our expectations of extras are pretty low.

Mark Poolos has changed all of that with the release of Unbridled Enthusiasm. His stand-up material clocks in at just under an hour and then he includes 20 minutes of outtakes, alternate endings, and other goodies on top of that. Not too shabby.

Poolos's comedy is solid and funny and he's really a likable guy. He didn't have to include anything extra on the disc because he has a really good set that brings a steady stream of strong laughs. The fact that he gives us a second, third, and fourth helping of dessert at the end is just plain generous. He serves up an excellent recording and then he offers more. "Unbridled" is like the Special Edition Diamond Criteria Collection of comedy albums.

Even if Poolos didn't load up so many extras this would still be a great album to add to your collection. He's a very talented comedian whose material is approachable and welcoming even when he's talking about topics that may not scream, "Take me home to meet your mother." Not everyone could reminisce on sex talks with their grandfather or the bosomy waitress at IHOP or people who take pride on getting freaky in the bedroom (and then getting out-freaked) and still retain a sense of family friendliness but somehow Poolos pulls it off. 

I purport that he's able to do it simply because of who he is. He's friendly and he loves to laugh. There's no malice in his intentions and he seems to be just as shocked as we are when he finds out there's such a thing as eye herpes. Although he's probably shared these stories countless times before in a countless number of venues, Poolos really succeeds at making it all sound fresh. It genuinely sounds as if it's the first time these tales are being told and if you think about it, that's an impressive feat.

One thing I really liked about this CD was the large number of genuine laughs contained within. Poolos didn't just make me smile or chuckle but he got me to laugh out loud quite often. From the idiots always in attendance whenever there's a bonfire to the image of a flustered elderly couple trying to get money from a Redbox kiosk, there are some really great bits here that will have you laughing, too.

Poolos stands at 6'7" and weighs in at 350 pounds, which makes it all the funnier when you try to picture him Wii boxing, especially since the short cord connecting the remote to the nunchuck makes him feel less like a pugilistic champion and more like an agitated T-Rex ("Get in my threat area!"). He doesn't claim to be the best-looking guy with an online dating profile, but he does request that women try to be a little more forthright with the photos they upload onto (the feathered hair tends to shoot off a warning flare that the photo you're using may not be the most current/accurate option).

Another aspect of the project I really enjoyed is the two basic types of bits he performs: 
  • Those I liked (when Poolos spotted a man shopping in Wal-Mart while wearing a Snuggie, his first thought was, "Is that a wizard buying fiber bars?")
  • And those I really liked (an unfortunate side-effect of Ambien is diarrhea, so when some poor schmuck finally gets some shut-eye, he wakes up having paid a steep price)
There aren't any throwaway anecdotes and Poolos really makes the most of each story.

The title of this project works both ways. Poolos pours his unbridled enthusiasm into his craft and, as a result of his hard work, one walks away with unbridled enthusiasm for this album and Poolos's comedy. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

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