On the new release “Get to the Castle” (Am I the only one who finds it impossible to NOT say the title of this album in my worst Ah-nuld voice?), Mark Ellis is just what you have come to expect when you listen to a stand-up comedy record: He’s likable and confident on stage, he has a decent amount of men-and-women-are-different material, and he’s quick on his feet when he interacts with the crowd. He even tosses in an occasional groaner that he can’t help but laugh at when the reaction it gets is less-than-overwhelming (and deservedly so).
Ellis shines the most when he strays from the standard comedian’s fare and delves into his own unique territory. His take on the two genders and how they respond differently in similar situations is good enough, but the topic has become such a cliche that one really needs to come up with something groundbreaking within the stereotype to set himself apart. I did enjoy Ellis’s comparison of groups of women out on the town to the A-team but for the most part it was just all right and Ellis is better than just all right.
Thankfully, Ellis spends most of his time (which, it should be noted, flies by) forging new ground by dreaming of the day he can move into a retirement community (despite the ominous promise/threat of free golf for the rest of your life) and explaining why his daughter will not be dating Twilight monsters. Be sure to keep a heads up for his comparison of werewolves and women which garners a most enjoyable anticipatory crowd response.
The insights Ellis has to share are fun and fresh, pointing out that college kids and the elderly have the same schedule (wake up, take drugs, watch “The Price is Right”) and precisely comparing a 50-year-old woman’s apartment to the hallowed Yankee stadium. He freely admits that his list of “likes” on his online dating profile aren’t accurate in reflecting who he is as a person, but actually consists of a list of things he’s willing to do to get laid.
As much as I like Ellis’s material on the worst injury to happen to yourself (bad haircuts) and what makes a Marine’s uniform the coolest of all the armed services, my favorite bits were those that provided a sense of nostalgia. Ellis longs for Domino’s to return to it’s 30-minutes-or-less roots and the picture he paints of a guy’s first high school dance - and Hypercolor shirts - hits the nail right on the head. I’d almost forgotten about those magical heat-responding garments and how they did not flatter the wearer when physical activity was involved.
You can’t go wrong with Super Mario Bros and Ellis wisely saves his take on the classic video game for the last part of the set. It’s my favorite track on the CD and when he speculates as to why a king would send two single, Italian men to rescue his daughter I knew he was on to something good. He prefers the Nintendo classic to the new video games where he is easily lost in free-roam forests and is forced to be sociable with hobbits. Ellis (and I) long for a simpler time when you could only move in one direction and if something moved, you squished it. If you can relate, then I recommend getting Get to the Castle.