Monday, February 4, 2013

Robert Buscemi's "One Pretty Peacock"

Robert Buscmi’s “One Pretty Peacock” is a celebration of odd non-sequiturs that come at you seemingly without rhyme or reason. But, for those of you familiar with Robert Buscemi, that’s pretty much business as usual. His latest project continues his celebration of the nonsensical where old school jokes about a farmer’s daughter are back in vogue and killing two birds with one stone literally includes baby birds and a cinder block.

On paper, a lot of Buscemi’s material wouldn’t translate well. Much of the humor lives in the delivery and his commitment to what he’s saying. One of the tricks I learned during my days doing improv is  the art of saying something like you know it’s the funniest thing in the world. Even if it’s not. Confidence in what’s coming out of your mouth can very often be the deciding factor in what makes something funny and Buscemi has it down. What would otherwise be a groaner or eye-roller if spoken by someone else becomes a crowd favorite here and a lot of it has to do with Buscemi’s loyalty to his material and the tone in which it’s spoken. He plays the audience like a fisherman staging an underwater marionette show for fish and the crowd is unable to resist the bait.

Buscemi’s comedy can very well be described as an acquired taste and it may take a minute or two to find yourself getting into his comedy groove. As comfortable as Buscemi is behind the microphone and despite his commanding stage presence, often times there can be a bit of a wait between big laughs. He’s throwing a lot at the wall and the percentage of what sticks isn’t always high. There’s a good, solid laugh on each of the tracks on the CD (his love for women in fish nets, the best name for a cover band that covers a Yes cover band, and the ultimate question: Is it more fun to watch a child’s balloon pop or float away?), but considering how much material and how many one-liners he’s tossing out, it’s not a record-breaking batting average.

Toward the end of the album, Buscemi delves into a story about his time as an executioner during a past life. Compared to the preceding bits, most of which are just a sentence or two, it’s a noticeable shift of gears as he stretches the story out over three tracks. It’s a hit-or-miss ten minutes that I found difficult to remain focused on after a bit. I thought it was a fun premise (covering a particular occasion he was in charge of the iron maiden) but you can skip past these cuts and not feel like the flow of the show gets a little sidetracked.

I think Buscemi is at his best when he keeps brevity on his side. It doesn’t take long to explain why his Japanese-flag speedos are a bad idea or revel in the soothing sounds of fish hymens popping and it’s at moments like these when he’s really humming along. His ideas are fun and original and his method for ending a Hollywood meeting is something I wish would catch on. In fact, it’s inspired me to wrap up this review in similar fashion.

No matter what you think of Buscemi and the distorted lens through which he views life, you people know nothing of the sea.

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