Every once in a while you come across someone who is so off-the-wall and delightfully random, you can’t help but watch and enjoy the show. I went to high school with a guy named Jack. He was gangly and birdlike with wireframe glasses that were much too large for his head. He spoke with a speech impediment that made his R’s sound like “ahhs” and his receding hairline at age 16, combined with his love for all things wizard-related, pretty much guaranteed he wouldn’t be spending much social time with the popular kids.
But I found him intriguing.
He took things that others considered trivial extremely seriously and I loved that about him. Something about watching him bang his head against the wall of futility as he tried to figure out how people worked by using equations and theories instead of social interaction fascinated me. And now, years later, it still persists, as I read his Facebook posts with a rapt curiosity, lurking in the background as I watch him screaming to no one in particular about the GAS COMPANY SCREWING UP HIS BILL or THE FUCKING SCHOOL NOT BEING FAIR TO HIS DAUGHTER (who looks a lot like him yet is actually quite adorable. Go figure). Poor Jack. Even after all these years he still finds himself with the short end of the stick. John Hughes had it wrong. Anthony Michael Hall characters very rarely end up making out with the hot blonde in a convertible.
So, what does all of this have to do with the new Paul Morrissey album, “Paul Morissey’s Back”? To be honest...not much. But there’s something about his comedy that reminded me of Jack. Maybe it’s Morrissey’s shaky, almost nervous sounding voice. Perhaps it’s the fact that, even on stage with a microphone in his hand, he still can’t get the idiots in the audience to Shut. Up. (Seriously, I mean, seriously, people, shut up. If you think you’re funny, show up at an open mic and give it a shot. Otherwise...for the love of Pete...Shut. Up.)
But really, that’s where the similarities end. Where the sad sack I knew from high school pretty much stayed in his sad sack role, Morrissey faces his obstacles head on and bucks the trend by overcoming them. If the club won’t say something about the yammering audience members, then Morrissey will. If someone is going to shout something out, thinking they’re funny, Morrissey is going to show them what funny really is. And if the crowd is going to be all quiet and reserved on him (and, to be honest, they are. Unfairly), then he’s going to bring it up. So he made an innocent dead grandmother joke, get over it, already.
Morrissey has taken the hand life dealt him (he’s so pale, the “red eye fix” feature in photo programs has quite an unfortunate result) and found the humor of it all. Whether he’s being spattered with blood while getting a haircut (and not his own blood, mind you) or explaining why he was disappointed the first time he witnessed a stripper jumping out of a cake, he takes the little things in life that seem predestined to trip him up and instead uses them to get laughter. And, in some instances, simultaneously sarcastic and racist applause.
I enjoyed Morrissey’s reaction to the lady at the deli counter who seemed genuinely confused by his turkey order and his bit on a girl’s most unusual tattoo goes exactly where you hoped it would. Only better. He loves Cinnabon so much they’ll probably never ask him to endorse their product and his questions about gay marriage and common-law marriage should give roommates everywhere a reason to stop and think.
This is a fun album that, although it brought to my mind a dorky kid from my hometown, is really nothing like him. Morrissey is engaging and someone you want to hang around with, not just stalk on social media sites. Morrissey isn’t afraid to take chances (except for hang gliding) and when something bugs him (home school kids with class rings) he knows how to express himself in a way that brings nice laughs. From confusing bank fees to the kid at Subway who spray paints the meat, Morrissey has it all down and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He’s relatable and handles himself well and as a result, we all have a good time.
A guy like Jack could learn a thing or two. Heck, so could I.