With his new CD “Chosen and Taken,” the brilliant Elon Gold leaves me with quite a quandary. Sixty minutes, 22 tracks, and a buttload of big laughs on each one. Which brings me to my problem: Where in the world do I start? I could start off with his bit on giving Starbucks baristas a goofy name to write on your cup…or giving them your real Hebrew name. Or, there’s his bit on who he wanted to be when he grew up. He didn’t strive to be a super hero, he wanted to be a big black woman. Sure, he wouldn’t be able to fly, but he’d never have to worry about being shushed at a Barnes & Noble (It isn’t a library, people, it’s a store!). Or we could jump off with the fact the Gold just doesn’t get enough credit for not cheating on his wife.
Or…well, you get the point. There’s a lot of funny going on here.
Gold’s humor is smart, but it’s smart done fun. He has an ear for language and the nuances of various accents and his examples prove the old “funny because it’s true” adage. Brits have a very peculiar relationship with the letter “T” (to pronounce or not pronounce) and Russians, who sound like they’re speaking backwards, love to throw in the letter “Y” where it doesn’t belong. For Israelis it’s the letter “N” and those darn New Zealanders just sound happy regardless of what they’re talking about. And let’s not forget the sexiest accent of all: People from Spain. Take Javier Bardem for example: “The “J” in “Javier” is silent because I banged the sound out of it.”
It only makes sense that Gold would have such a good sense of language because he’s obviously studied the speech patterns of others. He’s a dead-on impressionist and when he re-enacts a never-before-heard racist scene from Seinfeld, you realize what a pro you’re dealing with. His Jeff Goldblum is flawless and the other celebrities who read from a child’s potty training book are equally impressive.
Can I just take a moment to pause here and go on the record to give Gold serious props for not making his impressions a showoff-y crutch? As good as he is it would be easy to do, but then he’d fall into the treacherous waters of Lake Kevin Pollak, AKA I Can Do A Good Christopher Walken Voice And Doggonit I’m Going To Shoehorn It Into Everything I Do Ever And Have I Mentioned I Do A Good Christopher Walken Voice? Also I Do A Good Christopher Walken Voice. Gold’s approach is much wiser. He gets in there, nails it, and then moves on. Of course, that’s easy to do when you have as much incredible material to get to as Gold does.
There are times where you think you know where Gold’s going (Oh no, here comes his “Men and Women Are Different” material), but then he takes you somewhere you’ve never been. It’s not just the difference between men and women relationally. It’s the difference between men and women when they’re going in for surgery and the difference between men and women if a member of the opposite sex walked into their locker room.
The same goes for Gold’s bits on his Jewish heritage. You may think you’ve been here before but Gold is way too smart for that. It really is the only religion that doesn’t try to convert others (but that doesn’t stop him from postulating what it would be like if they did). I’d never considered the similarities between Jews and Italians before and when you think about it, you really can tell the pyramids were built by Jewish slaves. So take the new racial slur for Gold’s people (Negotiators) and run with it.
Toward the end of the project, Gold has a bit about his kids and the day they learned bad words. Not just bad words, but really bad words. The fact they knew these words that only very mean people use wasn’t what saddened Gold. That moment came when his children tried to spell those words to him.