Monday, March 10, 2014

Eddie Pepitone's "A Great Stillness"

Eddie Pepitone is a screamer. 

Not an angry, Sam Kinison, I HATE THE WORLD kind of screamer but an angry, disgruntled I HATE THAT THING RIGHT THERE kind of screamer. His rage is focused on the little things, things that shouldn’t get anyone so riled up, and the results are gut-busting. You’ve probably seen him on Conan as the angry stalker/New Yorker/Marathon runner who yells at the host from the audience (“Hey, O’Brien!”) or heard him on any number of live episodes of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. 

The genius of Pepitone’s comedy lies in how misguided his outbursts are. This is a man yelling, shouting, and nearly pleading to be understood and if other people would just open their eyes and realize why this particular tweet is so important, maybe everything would be OK.

It would be a severe over-simplification to say his album “A Great Stillness” is basically about two things (the aforementioned tweet and documentaries), but it's kind of true. Pepitone wants to read a couple of his tweets and talk about an animal-rights documentary he saw. That’s it. The trouble (and trick, really) is Pepitone sidetracks himself quite easily, all the while promising he remembers what he was talking about. He finds himself in the middle of his point and then - oh yeah! - there’s this thing over here...

Rabbit trail after hilariously infuriating rabbit trail takes us all over the map and the image in my head is one of Pepitone merrily skipping through the forest as he berates whatever we happen to pass along the way. Hey, TV commercial audition! Lemme tell you how you get your shirts so fresh! Hey, sleepytime tea! What the heck?! Hey, billboards advertising the TV show “Whitney!” Lemme tell you about adorkable! Hey, Julia Roberts! I got some words for you, too!

Nothing is safe from Pepitone’s rants and that includes Pepitone himself. He closes his set with what has become a signature bit of his, and it never fails to deliver. The premise is simple: What if Pepitone were heckled by someone who knows him as well as he knows himself? He then descends into the audience and aims his fury up at the stage, addressing his comedian persona (“Hey Pepitone! How come you dream about red birds attacking you at night?!”). It’s a collection of extremely random revelations that brings down the house. 

Of course, lurking behind the Angry Man facade is a genuinely nice man and the audience can sense this. Despite all of the shouting and rage, there’s something about Pepitone that lets you know he’s really a Good Guy and it’s all just for fun. Perhaps it’s the quiet moments in between the outbursts that tip us off or maybe just the sheer incredulity of what sets him off. Regardless, we all know and sense this is antagonism with a higher purpose. Thanks to Pepitone, comedy nirvana has been achieved. 

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