Monday, September 3, 2012

Kyle Cease's "I Highly Recommend This"

I learned something from “I Highly Recommend This,” the new CD from happy-go-lucky comedian Kyle Cease. We’ve all had moments in life when things don’t go exactly as planned - or hoped. Those times are inevitable as much as we may try to avoid them. Now, however, now...I know just what to do when those awkward moments come calling. 

Jump upside-down in the air, do an Air 69, and spray diarrhea. 

And if for whatever reason that doesn’t work, simply bust out into a Gallagher impression.

I know it sounds crazy, but when Cease finds himself painted into a corner where his joke had a good open and a good middle and a not-so-solid ending, this is exactly what he does and it gets the crowd every time. Random? Yes. Juvenile? Probably. Funny? Most definitely.

As a guy who promotes never being mad about anything and doing your best to make everything fun, the preceding is an example of Cease following his own advice. There’s a lot to be said for simple silliness and he revels in it, making for a project that is a true joy to experience.

Cease doesn’t take himself - or life - too seriously and as a result we get a lot of good bits about the Pillsbury Doughboy getting into a heated argument with Barney the dinosaur and how hotel hair dryers are a great metaphor for what it’s like to be a guy. In a world full of depressing 58-minute newscasts, Cease’s comedy is the lighthearted couple of minutes at the end about the little kitty.

Fearless and daring as a comedian, Cease always jumps in with both feet. Once in a while the waters are a little more shallow than he planned on (he has a strange bit on Ray Charles that never really takes off), but that’s the exception to the rule. The vast majority of his stories are solid and consistent in bringing laughter and I like the way he thinks. He takes pride in having a joke that actually is too soon to do and he has a handful of impressions in his arsenal that he should be proud of. These are gags like you’ve never heard before and probably never will again.

There is a great bit on the album about the rides at Universal Studios; Cease is really onto something. I never realized it before, but he’s right, every ride there does need your help (Oh no, “this” happened, you have to help us!) and now that it’s been pointed out to me I can’t believe I never noticed it before. Sometimes his insights are quite involved (the proper way to get what you want from a genie in the lamp) and there are others that are genius in their simplicity (“You can buy a Klondike bar, you don’t have to do all that shit.”).

I always enjoy hearing how a comedian deals with the crowd and in this case, Cease has quite the crowd to deal with. From the a-hole in the opening moments (whose photo, unfortunately, is not included in the CD packaging) to the girl who may very well be the dumbest heckler ever. Or maybe she’s just the most random. I tend to lean toward the former. Either way, Cease handles her well and never once gets thrown off-balance.

When it comes to death, Cease has a great plan for making his own exciting and interesting and he’s totally spot on when the topic shifts to Things In Life You’ll Never Hear (including, “Hey, let’s go to Alabama again!”). There’s a genuine joy for making others laugh that permeates the project and the hour seems to fly by. The album title truly says it all and I couldn’t have said it better myself: 

I highly recommend this.

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