I had a pretty mixed reaction to Danny Lobell’s “Some Kind of Comedian,” and the Glasgow audience where he recorded this CD seemed to, as well. One moment they’re applauding and laughing and the next they sit in silence as they watch a joke fall to its death. Is it the cultural barrier of having a Yank perform in Scotland? Is it because many of Lobell’s jokes, seemingly designed solely to stun instead of tickle one’s funny bone, came across flat and contrived? Or is it somewhere in between? I think the answer is D) All of the above.
As a stand up, Lobell steamrolls through his jokes like a shock jock unaware of the crowd’s reaction. Actually, I’m not sure if he’s unaware of where the crowd is or if he just doesn’t care. He’s going to tell these jokes, regardless, and if they want to try to jump on the train, it’s up to them.
Lobell is incredible at dialects and characterization, and when he assumes a persona other than his own the CD comes to life. I just don’t know if that’s a good thing. Even when he’s speaking in his flawless Scottish, German, Australian, Middle Eastern, or South African accents it still feels forced (and, at some points, sort of racist). Rather than dipping into his voices to enhance the stories, it seems the stories were designed solely to show off what he can do and as a result there isn’t always a lot of substance. Instead, I felt like I was listening to a 45-minute voice acting demo reel. It’s a really good demo reel but when it comes to laughs, for me they were very few and far between.
The CD ends on a surprisingly strong note and Lobell gets a great reaction from the crowd, but it's not because of anything particularly funny or cleverly written. It's just that Lobell does a really good impression of a Japanese flute. It's cool, yes, and sounds dead-on but...yeah. Just because you slap it onto a generic "imagine me masturbating to this music" scenario doesn't mean I'll find it hilarious. It's just a really good impression of a Japanese flute set in a cah-raaaaaaazy situation.
When I think about it, I guess it makes sense I didn't connect with this project. I've never been a fan of the shock jock radio style and the "Can you believe I just said that?" bravado. It's not that it's not good, it's just not for me.