Friday, May 31, 2013

Jack Hull's "The Irreverent (EP)"




The Irreverent EP” by Jack Hull is a bit of a misnomer. Just under 40 minutes long, it’s not really an EP and, truth be told, it’s not all that irreverent. (It should be noted that, although the cover art indicates this is “The Irreverent EP,” it is listed on both Amazon and iTunes as simply “The Irreverent.) Hull has a lot of energy and is committed to his material but it never seems to click into place. Perhaps he’s too committed to the material. Instead of feeling like a loose flow of thoughts, it sometimes comes across as a humorous monologue. Regardless of how the audience reacts (even when they don’t), he barrels on, his delivery often coming across not as a stand-up comedian, but as someone on Saturday Night Live doing a satirical impression of a stand-up comedian. 

Although it was released in April of 2013, a lot of the material feels dated. It was recorded in 2011 so topics like the death of Osama bin Laden and the Octomom feel stale. It felt as if Hull was using every bit he’s written for the past 10 years, so when he brings up the Michael Richards N-word scandal, Columbine, and the anti-piracy commercials in front of DVDs from the 90s as if they’re still hot topics in the news, it came across as worn-out and “been there, done that.” Hull isn’t breaking new ground and as a result, the laughs are few.

There’s a moment of confounding self-sabotage in the middle of his set where Hull decides to tell a poem. Of course, being a stand-up comic, we’re all expecting a joke, gag, or gimmick but instead we get a suckerpunch. He prefaces it by explaining he wrote it about having to perform his comedy in  “dive bars and shitholes,” inadvertently insulting everyone in attendance. I don’t think that was Hull’s intention, but when the audience suddenly goes quiet, you can tell they felt something. He then recites his downer of a poem in complete seriousness, lamenting how much it sucks having to perform for people in such crappy conditions and a cloud settles over everything. Should we apologize for making him perform? Is he mad that we came? Why are we being scolded?

The poem ends and there’s a brief round of obligatory post-poem applause. You can still feel the awkwardness in the room and Hull lets everyone stew in the silence. And then...out of nowhere... “Another thing I don’t get...why isn’t gay marriage legal?” It’s a weird transition if ever there was a weird transition and I’m not sure Hull realized how long it takes for him to bring the audience back around. Some of them, I think, never returned.




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