Friday, February 15, 2013

Keith Lowell Jensen's "Elf Orgy"



When it comes to the new album from Keith Lowell Jensen, “Elf Orgy,” I have good news and bad news. The good news is, Jensen has 20 minutes of really good, solid material. He’s on, the bits are clever, it’s genuine fun, and it’s a great club-ready set.  The bad news is, the CD is over an hour long.

After my first listen, I couldn’t help but think of all the stories I’ve heard other comedians tell about the time they were booked for a spot that was longer than they had prepared for. Usually the stories take place at the beginning of their career where they may only have a good 5 or 10 minutes and they are expected to perform for thiry. I’m not saying that’s the case here (because, quite frankly, I don’t know) but I am saying it’s how it felt. 

The first track begins a little rough and it’s a good five minutes before the first big laugh hits. Once it does, though, Jensen is on a roll and things really pick up steam. He tells the story of the time he and his daughter went to the grand opening of a local dog park and one never knew there was so much laughter to be found in watching a dog eat poop. Lowbrow? Yes. Juvenile? Yes. Funny? You’d better believe it.

From there Jensen moves swiftly into another animal/poop eating bit that encapsulates most of his time while working as manager at a Petco and it is every bit as enjoyable. It’s actually not as gross as what you're probably thinking but it is fun to hear him pass on a concern with which I had no idea how many pet owners suffer.

Listening to Jensen tell stories about the time he spends with his daughter is especially nice because it’s obvious how much he adores her. He brings her along on a lot of his adventures and you can’t help but envision the two of them tackling the mysteries of the world together, hand in hand, as she is taught to never trust a park by its name. Doing so might land you in the Wonderful World of Huffers.

And then...it all changes.

After the sixth track (of 14), things kind of fall apart. You can almost feel Jensen trying to fill time as his stories become more drawn out and he begins to set up and explain his bits two or three times in a row before he actually gets into it. He not only sets up the story or premise, but then explains it again in case you didn’t understand him the first time around. What Jensen does, is, he explains the set-up over and over and over before he moves on.

Jensen settles into his low-energy approach that begins to feel less like a style of delivery (a la Steven Wright or Todd Barry) and begins to come off as...boredom. He seems to have lost interest in what he’s saying, as if he’s spouted the same stories so many times, he’d rather be at home watching TV. And if the comedian is bored with himself, the listeners don’t have much chance.

When Jensen uses the saying “bros before hos,” he then adds (without trying to be funny) that most women probably don’t know that “secret guy phrase.” Really? You can actually feel him lose touch with the audience, especially when he makes fun of two Christian women who came to an earlier show and told him they enjoyed themselves (of all the easy Christian targets out there, you went for the two who were nice to you?). By the end, he is on stage literally bragging about porn stars who are fans of his. There’s no joke or punchline, it’s just Jensen rattling off names no one recognizes and I found myself confused by his suddenly-desperate attempt to impress. 

As much as I enjoyed the early part of this album, it was completely overshadowed by the last two-thirds. It wasn’t until I went back for another listen that I even remembered there were parts that made me smile. If you find yourself wanting to pick up this album, I don’t recommend going for the full-on elf orgy. Stick with tracks 2-6 and opt for the elf makeout session instead. 



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