On the new album “Holy Drivel,” comedian Derek Sheen starts things off at a nice steady pace. He begins with a fun bit on the differences between Seattle and Portland to kind of ease us into the proceedings. Nothing too crazy. Ribbing Portland for their hippy-dippy all-vegan strip clubs and explaining why daylight ruins the strip club experience (including the names of strippers who don’t qualify to appear during peak nighttime hours, like “Bruisy,” “Clumpy,” and “Knuckles”), Sheen plays it cool while the audience gets comfortable.
And then, without warning, Sheen slams the pedal to the metal and we’re off like a shot. As he lays in on The South and their collection of the greatest fat people ever, the laughs suddenly go into overdrive and there’s no turning back.
I’ve heard comics take on The South before but no one has taken them (and their biscuit-based economy) to the cleaners quite like Sheen. One moment he’s rattling off what sounds like a pretty tasty and totally legitimate recipe for perfect buttermilk biscuits and the next he’s listing the secret process for the accompanying gravy that I believe is just as equally accurate.
With Sheen, you never quite know what’s around the corner and that’s a good thing. He has a passion that is reminiscent of Lewis Black and his references, stretching from Frank Herbert’s “Dune” to Coachella all in one Paula Deen joke, will keep you on your toes.
Sheen’s observations and insights are right on the money: Gay men have great yard sales, lesbians do not (what do you do with a huge box of wolf t-shirts and dreamcatchers?). Chattanooga is the Detroit of The South. And yes, there is a way to correct things if you’re raising a crappy kid (grab your pillow). Sure, these aren’t all things you can say around the water cooler at your job tomorrow without catching a weird look or two, but that doesn’t take away from their truthyness (thank you, Stephen Colbert, for that word).
Like many of my favorite comedians, Sheen is more of a storyteller than a crafter of yuk-yuk one-liners. Particularly memorable is his tale of the small town Tennessee bar that comes to life on Fridays due to a mysterious and frightening phenomenon and you won't soon forget the nickname he came up with for his best friend’s new baby that even surprised Sheen with it’s complete inappropriateness.
Not to be forgotten is the final track that begins with a simple desire to get away from the pressures of everyday life and ends with the idea of leaving Disneyland covered in child blood and enduring the parenting styles of lame fathers who don’t incur the wrath of the Portuguese Tack Hammer but instead opt for repeating their child’s name over and over again for five minutes. If your name happens to be “Micah,” prepare yourself, because from now on you will have a new way of being addressed by your friends.
I found myself enjoying this album so much, when it was over I couldn’t believe 45 minutes had passed. At first I was angry and thought, “What a rip-off! A 20-minute CD? I want more!” Then, after realizing how much time had actually passed, it made me happy. Forty-five minutes flew by and that’s always a good sign. And, even though I thought I might, I didn’t walk away with “It’s A Small World” stuck in my head. That’s always good, too.