Who is Phil Keeling?
After listening to his debut CD “Conquistadork,” I’m not really sure. Keeling has a lot of different approaches and styles, never committing to one or the other. One moment he comes across as a Vegas-style comedian with his Hank Kingsley-ish “Hey now!” delivery complete with metaphors that sound straight from the heyday of The Strip (“He’s losing territory faster than an Indian with a fistful of beads”).
Later in the recording Keeling suddenly shifts gears and unloads all of his "sexist" material. It’s a bit jarring and inconsistent as he goes from Mr. Entertainment to The Guy Who Tells Women To Shut Up. Keeling delivers the jokes his mother doesn’t approve of and then merrily moves along, sometimes leaving the audience in a stunned “What just happened?” silence.
The album would have benefited if Keeling had taken all of his jokes, with all of his different points of view, and compressed them together. Rather than spray the room with comedy buckshot, hoping to hit your mark with at least one of them, it’s sometimes better to go with one well-crafted sniper shot of humor. Keeling could have shaved ten minutes from his set and walked away with more laughs.
That’s not to say the crowd didn’t enjoy themselves. In fact, judging by how loud one woman laughed throughout the CD, I found myself wishing she didn’t laugh nearly as much as she did. I’m not saying her laugh, which sounded like a Warner Brothers barnyard animal, wasn’t distracting but...OK, I guess I am saying that.
Keeling’s ends his set with another opportunity for cutting his time on stage short. It has not one, not two, but three closers and comes across as if he couldn’t decide which one to go with, so he decided to use them all. Rather than thinning out the laughter by spreading it across multiple jokes, I would have preferred if he stuck with one and went for the big laugh.
Confident, comfortable, and self-assured, it’s clear Keeling belongs on the stage. I’m curious to see how his comedy evolves as he decides just which kind of comedian it is he wants to be.