Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last-Minute Recommendations

In case you haven't noticed (and if you haven't, you haven't?), the number of reviews I've cranked out has trickled off the second half of this year. It's not for any specific reason and definitely not for lack of material, but sometimes there's just more going on than I can tackle at once. 

True, I could have written shorter reviews (I usually try to listen to each album at least three times and hit at least a 500-word count in each post), but I didn't want to shortchange any of the comedians. It wouldn't have been fair to them to not give them the attention they deserved.

But is giving them no attention fair? 

Good question.

That being said, I will get to them. Until I do, though, I wanted to give you a quick list of those comedians whose official reviews I haven't yet written but their names need to be known. Some of them will appear on my Best of 2013 list and some won't, but they all deserve a place on your hard drive. Swing by the Comedy Reviews store and pick 'em up.

Here they are, in alphabetical order. I haven't been able to write about them yet, but - spoiler alert - I'll have nothing but good things to say when I do. 

There ya go. Nine albums that are well worth blowing your Christmas money on. So what are you waiting for? Get to laughing!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

John Tole's "Reign in Laughs"

On his CD “Reign in Laughs,” John Tole does his best to do just what the album title promises. He tries a variety of different comedy styles - blue, surreal, bait-and-switch, blue, over-the-top, blue, observational, and blue - and it may be because he throws in so many styles that it never quite clicked with me.

Tole seems to switch his batting stance so often, it’s no wonder that I never felt able to settle in as a listener. And, in what becomes a predictable pattern, when the laughs don’t seem big enough or Tole feels unsure where to go next, things take a sudden left turn into the gutter. No matter what it is Tole is ranting about, he finds a way to shoehorn it into a joke about masturbation and bodily fluids. 

When it comes to blue humor, I suppose I’m a little picky. As long as it makes me laugh, I’m good. When it doesn’t, though, it just seems...dirty. Such is the case, here. And, when partnered with a premise that is a little hard to follow (Note the odd silence of the audience when Tole declares, “That’s the porn voice of the girl who doesn’t make the porn audition where there is no job to get.” OK, what?), it doesn’t always result in the biggest reaction.

There are times when Tole is really on to something. Take for instance the phrase “You’re my everything” that is often uttered by those in love. It seems like a great launching pad for a bit but instead Tole decides to go random with an “Oh yea? I’m you’re everything? Well what about...” diatribe that inexplicably includes nose zits and burrito farts that completely abandons his original point for what seems to be no other reason than to see how gross he can be. Like going blue, you can do gross humor as long as it’s part of/assists the punchline, but when you go for the gross-out groan and use that as the punchline, I tune out.

At one point, Tole brings the crowd along for a multi-person impression of The Internet that is simultaneously funny, clever, and a nice commentary on the current state of pop culture. I really enjoyed it and felt that’s when Tole really shined. If more of his material was grounded in similar territory, I think the laughs would really be reined in.