Monday, September 24, 2012

Myq Kaplan & Micah Sherman's "Please Be Seated"

Please Be Seated is a wonderful example of just how good a comedy team can be. Working together - and off of each other - like they’re reading each other’s minds is Myq Kaplan and Micah Sherman, a singing duo who are quite capable of making you laugh whether they’re doing it through song, pre-planned patter, or riffing on a stumbled word or two. I am immediately put in mind of Jason and Randy Sklar. They’re twins, they’re supposed to have an impeccable sixth-sense sort of timing (and they do). Kaplan and Sherman share an equally cohesive vibe that is quite impressive for a couple of guys who aren’t related (unless they’re also twins and have kept it a secret from all of us). These guys work well together, that’s all there is to it, and their synchronization makes for one heck of a good time.

The approach Kaplan and Sherman have to songwriting is one of playful carelessness. Their lyrics are rapid fire, as if the songs were written by a Robin Williams-possessed Stephen Sondheim. There is little regard for music theory as the two bend timing and structure to make way for every word they’re trying to cram in. It’s a lot of fun and they do so with a sense of madcap deviousness.

The first part of the album is a live recording and the music portion begins with the "Comedians’ National Anthem", a bit that includes a promise to git-r-done by talking about airplane food, redneck jokes, and every other comedic stereotype. It’s a great premise and I’m sure comedians everywhere (especially those who also sing) are kicking themselves for not coming up with this idea on their own.

Kaplan and Sherman’s chemistry isn’t just spot on when they’re introducing a song or teasing each other for tripping over a word. It bubbles over into their music where each of them retains their original voice and perspective. When they’re not poking fun at Alanis Morissette and the fact that her big hit actually wasn’t ironic at all (hence their song, “Inonic”) or performing a song about loss that contains more misdirections than a Penn & Teller performance, then they’re taking their turn on the verses to take shots at each other. 

From “We’re Different”, a tune that celebrates their individuality:

Kaplan: I am a vegan...
Sherman: ...And people like me

Other songs on the album that you’ll enjoy include “Bad Idea” (“When we say ‘abor,’ you say ‘tion!’) and “Movie Star,” designed to help Sherman feel better about his less-than-Greek god looks. A couple of tracks are their live songs re-recorded in the studio, polished and auto-tuned to perfection. “Bop 25,” a danceable pop song with a message, is the one that garners the best results.

Lest you think this is only an album of funny songs, Kaplan & Sherman mine a lot of huge laughs from their banter. I especially enjoyed a sketch they performed where Sherman, playing a Hollywood studio boss, entertains Kaplan, who plays a series of pitchmen with ideas for the next big blockbuster hit. Kaplan impressively rattles off one tongue-twisting idea after another and it's a really well-written (and acted) exposé on how Hollywood really works.

Light-hearted and a genuinely fun time, Please Be Seated is a great way to forget about the election, the economy, healthcare, or whatever heavy issues are permeating the airwaves and just kick back, have a nice laugh, put on the appropriate hat for your intelligence level and agree that yes, the McDonaldland character Grimace does indeed have a big dumb mouth in the middle of his stupid neck.

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