“I Got Potential,” the name of the new CD from Geoff Tate, has got to be the most understated album title in recent history. Granted, it might lower your expectations a bit, but from the moment Tate gets going you realize you’ve been had by a ringer.
Tate has great stage presence and his storytelling skills are incredible. Take for instance the time he found himself stopped at a 4-way stop intersection. The woman driving the vehicle in front of him threw her car into reverse and backed into Tate’s rental car. That’s the basic story of what happened. Tate breaks it down and is able to mine 10 minutes of phenomenal material out of it. Thoughts that flashed through his mind in milliseconds - Is this really happening? Where is the horn on this car? Should I make a beeping sound? If so, which one? How do I roll down the windows? Is the rental company going to take my child/dog as punishment? - are all analyzed and gone over with a fine-toothed comb and the result is a hilarious re-telling of an incident that, in someone else’s hands, may just be a slightly interesting footnote.
Remember the time you were listening to that other comedian and they said something really funny and then just dropped it and moved on to something else? That’s not the case with Tate, and that’s one of his strongest attributes as a comic. When he’s found material that works, he knows it, and he expands and expounds, making it work better and better. Five of the 11 tracks on the CD clock in at just about 10 minutes and each one contains some of the best comedy I’ve heard this year.
The rant on the apologetic Domino's ad campaign (Sorry for screwing you guys for the last 40 years) raises more than a few questions that should be addressed and their way of proving they use real tomatoes (Let’s kidnap people and then freak the hell out of them and make them think they're in a house that is collapsing!) is exposed for the outlandish, over-the-top way of proving a point that it is. Tate revels in the pointlessness of putting a survey on a box that will be almost immediately thrown away and his attention to detail should be applauded. I loved it when he observed "Chef Daniel" in the commercials prancing around in his little chef's hat and simply commented that was probably "the first day in 15 years he didn't wear jean shorts to work."
Considering the length of the CD (around 70 minutes) and how incredible it is (really, really incredible), I can think of no reason you shouldn’t have this one in your collection. You’ll love his take on the reaction of Oprah’s in-studio audience when her bear-attack survivor guest removes their prosthetic ear and you’ll find yourself giggling and snickering along with Tate and his dumber-than-you-would-think-a-doctor-should-be brother as they partake in a highly unscientific scientific Chicken McNugget experiment. There’s also a tale that includes Darvocet, Wal-Mart, a pirate costume, mushrooms, rat water, and the fact Tate was hit by a car twice within seven days that, again, really needs to be heard.
Geoff Tate is a true master of knowing what is funny and how to make it as funny as possible. Never before has placing your order at a Subway sandwich shop in the Deep South or revealing the items needed to pull of the perfect crime* been so laugh out loud-able. Geoff Tate, you don’t just got potential. You got the funny.
*Two shovels, a garden (you must have a garden!), and a clean shirt