Friday, October 26, 2012

Dan Cummins's "Hear This!"

I’m glad there are people out there like Dan Cummins if for no other reason than I am comforted by the fact that I’m not the only one who secretly harbors socially unacceptable thoughts about hipsters, how gays are like the TV show “True Blood,” and kicking babies. Cummins, of course, is able to put into words the same things I am thinking much better than I would be able to and without a doubt, much funnier. Much, much funnier. More likely than not if I were to try to express these same sentiments, they would be taken the wrong way. Cummins will, from now on, be my translator and the next time I’m trying to make a point, I’ll just play a track from his new album “Hear This!” and say, “THAT’s what I mean.” No longer will my infant-punting dreams be the reason for my social ineptitude.

It all begins when Cummins relays the tale of the hunchbacked, shifty-eyed hotel front desk clerk with a pencil-thin mustache and beard who tried to steal his credit card information. As the botched heist is described, Cummins takes a sinister glee in describing the perp’s less-than-cover model looks, right down to his pinkies-for-thumbs hands. As if that weren’t funny enough on its own, Cummins then begins to hypothesize how the creepy guy lost his original digits in the first place and it’s a good peek into the huge laughs that are waiting for you on the rest of the album.

Cummins’s honesty and transparency are both aspects of his comedy that I really enjoy. As politically incorrect as it may be to admit, he judges (and hates) people based on the way they look (especially if they’re smoking a pipe), he thinks America is the best country but doesn’t think it’s “great” (yes, it is possible to not be great and still be the best), and although he loves his kids equally, he does like one of them more than the other (and reveals which one that is). Cummins freely admits these - and other - thoughts run rampant inside his head and we can all relate. If you claim you’ve never wished death on someone completely innocent for the slightest infraction, then think back to last week when you were running late and there was someone in front of you in the fast lane driving the speed limit. See? You’re one of us now. Sit down and relax.

More a storyteller than a joke-teller (and I think I prefer it that way), Cummins comes armed with some fantastic tales from real-life experiences. They don’t always paint him in the best light as witnessed by the time he more than likely got a school employee fired for not wanting to get hit with spoons, but that’s not why we’re here. Cummins isn’t trying to make himself look like a model citizen, he’s here to make us laugh, and doggonit, he does it well. Yes, the scenario that plays out in his head when the guy at the smoothie shop won’t. Do. His. Job. Is probably a little over the top, but it’s also pretty darn hilarious, too.

When it comes to his kids, Cummins has an unending source of comedy. He admits that before having kids he didn’t like them and after having kids he hates them (except for his two. He loves his. Hates all others) and his two children couldn’t be further apart on the personality spectrum. His son is the goofy carefree one who wants to grow up to be a dwarf so he can still crawl through logs. His daughter is The Dark One, so cunning and sinister she makes Stewie Griffin look like the E*Trade baby. It’s like she knows what he’s saying about her on stage in front of strangers and is making him pay for it at home. For real.

I can’t finish this review without giving props to the creative team who designed the cover art for the CD. Although a seemingly simple premise at first glance (Cummins at a smoothie shop), it is filled with funny details that serve as callbacks to big laughs on the album. Read the descriptions of the smoothies on the chalk board. Pay special attention to how the kids are dressed. Even the price of the smoothies ($6) points to a great bit on toll bridges that demand cash only. 

A lot of care and time when into making this album, in every aspect, and it shows. It’s a great project from a very funny comedian and I can’t recommend it enough. Hear this. Hear this now.

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