Monday, October 15, 2012

Ryan Singer's "Comedy Wonder Town"

Comedy Wonder Town,” the new album from the very talented Ryan Singer, is appropriately named. Full of witty humor partnered with a genuine awe for the achievements around us (like spaceships, heart surgery, and scissors), this album takes us to a fun place where we are invited to keep an open heart, an open mind, and you’re encouraged to break out into a song at any time (“Man-bit debris surrounds yooooooou”). In other words, it’s a nice place to be.

Singer, raised in an Irish-Catholic gambling family, is a guy who knows how to have fun. He goes through life with a sincere appreciation of the wonders that surround him, never taking for granted what others have achieved and created. He freely admits he would never be able to figure them out on his own (“The older I get, the more I know zero”). He has a fresh outlook on how to overcome jealousy and insecurity and is right on the button when he explains how we have confused luxury with necessity. Of course, it’s all done while garnering some super-sized laughs.

Relaxed and laid back at times, it’s fun to watch Singer switch gears as he twists himself out of shape. It put me in mind of being a kid at the playground and spinning a friend on the swings. The chains would creak as they were wound up tighter and tighter, and then when I couldn’t push them any further, I would step back and let go, watching and laughing as they spun in a circle. Similarly, it’s fun to watch Singer as he explodes, converting the potential energy to kinetic in an outburst of scientifically accurate Neanderthal song lyrics.

As a child, Singer thought he would have all of life’s answers and be a mature citizen by the time he was in his 30s, but that hasn’t happened. He still hasn’t figured out how to work his body, he doesn’t trust people who refuse to swear (he needs to have a reliable warning for the impending dragon apocalypse), and is still slightly obsessed with his ex-girlfriend (I say slightly because, let’s be honest, haven’t we all written letters to our ex from the point of view of our fictional daughter who is, in reality, a watermelon?).

When it comes to women and relationships, the cards are stacked against Singer. He’s physically attracted to the type of girls he hates and he was creeped out by the 15-year-old girl at a flea market who sexually harassed him. On the bright side, though, it creeped him out. He’s not surprised that teenagers are getting pregnant, but he is surprised that the teens are surprised. To top everything off, the only thing that might be worse than scouting for the person who can silence the alarm on his biological clock that ticks louder and louder each day is trying to help his divorced parents do the same.

My favorite track comes near the end of the album, when Singer reveals his CB Radio hobby. He’s taken it upon himself to entertain the world of truckers by telling them jokes about his wife who doesn’t exist. Frustrated by the fact that the response has been...nonexistent, Singer has created a cast of characters to respond to his broadcasts to make it sound like people are paying attention. He smoothly slips from one hilariously animated persona to the next, most memorable for me being the guy who doesn’t quite know how to sign off. It’s an impressive bit and even if the truckers aren’t laughing, I sure was.

Comedy Wonder Town is a pleasant place where you’ll want to stick around for a while. Sure, there are questionable items left behind in the apartments by the previous tenants  and the Olympic-sized swimming pools are not to be trusted, but the women there are fully covered and the Saturday evenings are ripe with opportunities to prove your mother didn’t raise a pig and your father didn’t raise a quitter. Comedy Wonder Town. Welcome home.

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