Monday, December 3, 2012

Ian Bagg's "It Takes A Village"

The new album from Ian Bagg, “It Takes A Village” doesn’t just fly by. It flies by. It’s a wondrous 45 minutes of laughter, audience interaction (both invited and thrust upon him), and he-did-not-just-say-that asides that guarantee your cheeks will be sore from chuckling aloud.

There’s no filter on Bagg’s train of thought and as soon as an idea pops into his head, it’s on his lips and spoken aloud in no time. This results in one rapid-fire, so-quick-you-might-miss-it outburst after another, adding a genuinely fun sense of utter randomness. At one point Bagg hears someone in the audience carrying on a conversation of their own and instead of addressing it with a query like, “Is someone talking?” he responds by declaring, “Hey, who’sthatladyfuckinshutit.” I loved it.

Bagg has some really good material that he features here such as the declaration that babies born with three arms should spend most of their time on ceiling fans and his wonderfully blue comparison of pleasing a woman to eating a Caesar salad for the first time. Bagg says it all when he remarks with a snicker, “You should see some of your faces right now.”

The real fun kicks in, though, when Bagg works off-the-cuff, interacting with people in the audience. In attendance are “Beardy,” “Vesty,” “Stripes” and Audrey, the girl in the crowd who can’t keep her mouth shut and is rightfully diagnosed by Bagg as “a little retarded.”

After my first listen, I had real contempt for those in the audience. As someone who loathes hecklers and random-shout-outers, I couldn’t believe what Bagg had to deal with. And deal with them he does. Bagg deals with them so harshly (yet appropriately harsh), even he is a little surprised by how many women keep claiming they had given birth to the largest baby. Bagg is amazingly adept at doling out poetic justice to those (on this particular night, mostly drunk women) who think they have a clever comment to interject.

Upon repeated listening, I realized there are only a couple of instances where people yell something out unwarranted (to which Bagg simply replies at one point, “You’re very pretty, but talking’s not your strong suit”). For the most part, Bagg goes to the audience with questions and then lets loose as the answers he receives become more and more ridiculous. We discover there are a couple of parties in attendance, one a group of loudmouthed ladies on a “Girls Night Out” (insert eye roll here) and some employees from a local bank celebrating a Christmas party. 

Where most comedians would move on from there, Bagg decides to have a little fun at their expense and that’s when things really take off. Everyone is kept on their toes as he quickly jumps from one topic to another without batting an eye or giving any sort of indication that he’s about to take a hard left. One moment he’s asking someone what their favorite TV show is and the next, he’s asking a guy in the audience directly, “What’s your favorite part of a blow job, sir?” The unexpectedness  makes for some big laughs and an excited, nervous energy fills the room, no one knowing where Bagg will strike next.

For the most part, Bagg latches on to the group of bankers, refusing to move on to something else despite the pleas of “Mike,” the man in the group who is outed as the guy in charge. No matter how many times Bagg pleads with Mike to tell everyone which bank they work with, Mike refuses to give up the goods and a game of cat and mouse has officially begun. 

Bagg enjoys playing with the bankers, pitting Mike against Audrey, a co-worker who can’t keep her mouth shut and really, really should. At one point, the crowd turns on itself, heckling Mike about his penis size and Bagg giggles with delight to see the anarchy he has created. 

And before you know it, 45 minutes has flown by. Bagg ricochets back and forth between his prepared material on being a strong Catholic and the fight he had with an ex-girlfriend’s retarded brother to off the cuff remarks about Mike, the fact that he shouldn’t be appearing in any advertisements for the bank, and his inability to count.

The album is a great example of how funny someone can be who’s quick on their feet and unafraid to interact with the crowd. Despite how clever the audience thinks they are with their comments about anti-itch cream and guys who “tuck,” it’s Bagg who comes out on top. He finishes off his set with an impressive callback that incorporates pretty much everything that happened during his set, including people’s names and their stupid comments. He even gets Mike to admit which bank his group is from and it’s at that point the boxing match is over. 

Nice try, studio audience. You fought a valiant fight but when all is said and done, it’s Bagg who claims the victory with an 11th round (or 11th track) TKO. Good fight.

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