I went into Mike Vecchione’s “Muscle Confusion” knowing I was going to have a good time. I didn’t just hope I was gonna have a good time; I knew it. Last year my wife and I went to New York City with her parents and we caught Iliza Shlesinger performing at the Gotham Comedy Club. Opening for Iliza was a soft-spoken guy who looked like he could bend steel with his bare hands and he killed it.
It was, of course, Vecchione. I made a point to commit his name to memory because I was pretty sure I’d be hearing from him again soon (I hadn’t heard of him before because I don’t watch Last Comic Standing. Long story).
Sure enough, Vecchione recently popped up in my iPod as a guest on a live episode of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast and, again, he had a great set. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I heard even more from him and sure enough “Muscle Confusion” made its way to my inbox last week for review. I confess I pre-judged the CD even before listening.
Turns out I was right. As always, Vecchione delivers a great set that’s fresh, relatable, and funny. Even though he has the looks of a dicky Staten Island cop (his words, not mine), he is a well-honed comedian who’s always in control and continues to click along at a steady pace. His delivery is one that almost forces you to listen; as he speaks in a gentle, mellow tone, the audience hangs on every word and is rewarded with some great observations about special racist muscles, the time Vecchione was glad his date wasn’t smarter than a fifth grader, and how you really know when you’ve lost a snowball fight.
There’s a subtle intensity in Vecchione’s voice that lends a certain gravitas to his material. He’s letting you know that, although what he says is funny, this is serious business. He firmly believes that just because he’s poor he shouldn’t have to be gay (You’ll have to hear the whole bit to catch the reasoning behind that one). He doesn’t shy away from repeating himself if he feels it’s necessary to get his point across because, again, this is important stuff we’re talking about. One of his favorite parts of the female anatomy really does sound like an Italian dessert and yes, let’s get this transvaginal mesh problem taken care of because he may indeed have a generous cash settlement coming his way.
Vecchione blends nicely his knack for storytelling (His bit on sitting in an airplane Emergency Row is a great start to the project) and his skill with one-liners (Some people say women aren’t funny, but have you ever seen a woman parallel park?), showing he’s not just a one-trick pony. As a result, we’re kept on our toes, laughing at what comes at us unsuspectingly, reveling in never quite knowing exactly what’s coming next. That's my kind of "Muscle Confusion.”