Having the ability to make a crowd groan is pretty easy; Go on stage and say something offensive. Having the ability to make a crowd groan and laugh is considerably harder. Anthony Jeselnik comes to mind as someone who really knows how to slug the audience in the gut and make them laugh at the same time. Chad Daniels, though, takes it one step further and pulls off the ultimate trifecta: He makes the audience groan, he makes them laugh, and he walks away with his image of the nicest guy in the world completely intact.
To be honest, I don’t quite know how he does it. The things Daniels says on his new album, Natural Selection, are sometimes truly horrible. He calls his wife a twat, maintains that his recently-deceased high school football coach is still a dick (passing away doesn’t take away one’s dick status), and encourages you to let your stupid kids walk off of a cliff, yet he still comes across as a truly good guy. While the aforementioned-Jeselnik’s onstage persona is that of the ultimate douche, Daniels is the kind of guy you want to have as a neighbor, invite to the family barbecue, and vote for as school board president.
Of course, being able to make people laugh can cover a multitude of transgressions and the fact that Daniels is one of the funniest comedians working today doesn’t hurt. While some comedians come across as truly angry, Daniels, although there are things that upset him, always has a light-hearted undertone in his voice that lets you know everything is said in the name of getting a laugh. And if you can make people laugh, you can get away with saying a lot.
Although the name of this CD is Natural Selection, the subtitle could very well be Please Don’t Let My Loved Ones Listen To This. No one in Daniels’s household is safe. I don’t know how much of this material his teenage son has heard - if any - but Daniels is in for an evening of “You told them that?!” when he does. Going through puberty is never easy and it’s impossible not to laugh as Daniels stands back and gleefully watches his son navigate this brave new world of nocturnal emissions and hairy penines* on his own. Considering his wife, father-in-law, and sister also get their fair share of pokes and jabs, I can’t think of another Christmas family gathering I’d rather eavesdrop upon.
It should be noted that Daniels is not what I would classify as a “shock comic.” Yes, at times what he says is shocking but that's not his final goal. Plain and simple, he’s out to make people laugh and he passes with flying colors. Sometimes he has to say harsh things to get his point across, but they’re always things that need to be said. His commentary on society is not done out of spite but of tough love. The track “InFATuation” is a prime example and it’s one of my favorites on the project. Daniels takes aim at, to put it bluntly, fat people and it’s a solid bit that had me laughing the entire 10-minute duration. Before you can even begin to protest that not everyone can help being overweight Daniels cuts off the argument at the pass and begins a tirade that is hilariously unforgiving.
If you like to laugh - at others and yourself - and you have your sense of humor securely intact, you’re going to love this album. If not, well…there’s a line of people over at this cliff the rest of us would like to invite you to join.
*Not a misspelling. I mean, it is, but not mine.