Monday, August 26, 2013

Paul Varghese's "Paul & Oates"



I like the new CD from Paul Varghese, “Paul and Oates.” I like it a lot, to be honest. In fact, I like it so much I could fill the rest of this review with just the phrase “I loved it!” over and over again and it would be true to how I feel, but that would be lazy. Or, at least, that’s what my wife tells me. 

It would also be unfair to Varghese. There are so many wonderful moments to be found here, it would be a huge disservice to not point them out to you. Not all of them, mind you, because if I did this wouldn’t be a review as much as it would be a word-for-word transcript of everything he says. So I’ll hit a few of my favorite moments and leave the others for you to discover and be surprised by on your own. 

Varghese begins the album with three tester jokes. He explains if you like them, you’ll like the rest of the night. If you don’t, well...well, let’s be honest. His comedy is so enjoyable, his delivery so smooth and relaxed, and his observations so humorous, if you don’t find them funny then may I direct your attention to the various cat videos that can be found on YouTube. 

After getting past his intro jokes (which again, trust me, you’re going to like), we’re off and running. He begins with a great bit on his Kia rental car (that, believe it or not, was an upgrade) and hums along at a steady pace for the next 50 minutes, never once showing any signs of slowing down. There’s no lull in the middle that is often found in comedy CDs where the bits that aren’t completely finished or perfected can sometimes be hidden. Instead, Varghese motors along and brings us with him, laughing the entire time.

Many comics in recent history seem to have a lot of material about their moms: Crazy moms, disturbed moms, concerned moms, supportive moms, absent moms, single moms, you name it, it’s been covered. Because of that, Varghese’s material about his dad comes as a nice change of pace. You don’t have to be raised in Texas from a father of Indian descent to relate. Whether he’s confusing the names of diseases with those conflicted with the illness, mistaking the Swine Flu with a visa application, explaining why he doesn’t have any photos of Varghese from the age twelve through twenty, or just plain refusing to admit he may be mistaken, we can all relate with a Dad operating in the Standard Ways Of The Dad.

A single guy who doesn’t have the income to “wine and dine” a woman (it’s much more affordable to take the “juice and seduce” breakfast path), it’s not that Varghese isn’t looking to settle down, it’s just that none of the ladies are looking back. When it comes to deciding between a life-saving phone call with a 9-1-1 operator and making small talk with a cutie, it’s really not much of a decision at all.  And it’s not that he doesn’t want to get married, he just wants to be able to meet the girl before the big day (much to his parents’ chagrin).

Varghese notices a lot of little details that have gone mostly unnoticed by other comedians. The inanity of putting school bus emergency exits in the ceiling, what it’s like to eat a birthday cake intended for someone else, the notion of non-toxic crayons as opposed to the alternative, and the horrible names Americans have given various foods and drinks, Varghese hits it all with just the right amount of oomph (and measuring oomph-ness is never an easy task)

And look at that. I’ve reached the end of the review without touching on even a fraction of the things I had taken note of upon listening. But that’s a good thing. Too much funny, too much goodness, too much laughter...that’s something I’ll never complain about and with this CD you won’t find me complaining a bit.




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