Friday, July 18, 2014

Dylan Brody's "More Arts Less Martial"

Dylan Brody is back and, if you’re familiar with this site and my past reviews of his work, it should come as no surprise that I’m very excited about his return. This time around is special, as “More Arts Less Martial” comes as a video release. I’d seen clips of Brody on YouTube before but it’s especially nice to be able to kick back for an hour and watch him do his thing.

The self-proclaimed Purveyor of Fine Words and Phrases is exactly the Master Storyteller you would expect one with such a moniker to be. His words paint a beautiful picture and watching the prose flow out of him so easily makes me realize how much of a neanderthal I am when it comes to the spoken word (I can’t finish a sentence without peppering it with four “ums,” two “awesomes,” a “yeah yeah yeah” and the obligatory “I know, right?”). What is even more impressive is that Brody does it all without the net of a cheat sheet.

Because Brody’s speech is so eloquent, when listening to his past projects I always assumed he was reading his own pre-written material from a journal or notebook. Not here. It doesn’t sound memorized or recited but instead has the natural conversational tone I was familiar with. It made me come to grips with the fact that yep, this guy’s just really, really good.

This project is a “greatest hits” of sorts, many of the stories having appeared on past releases. That doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of them, though, because leaping from an audio-only interaction to video is understandably a completely different experience. It’s not unlike all of the Bill Cosby albums and cassettes I listened to as a kid. As much as I enjoyed them, I’ll never forget the first time I saw video footage of the bits I had come to know and love. Likewise, Brody’s tales are brought to new life with facial expressions, casual glances, and yes, the constant presence of his scarf (something I’ve always wanted to pull off, but know I can’t).

Brody cherry picks some of my favorite pieces from his impressive repertoire and, although they’ve never appeared together before in one project, he wildly succeeds. If you were to watch this video without any prior knowledge, you’d never guess these particular vignettes weren’t specifically designed to go together. It helps that Brody is able to weave a couple of themes throughout his show, an old joke about a doctor’s office and helpful words from his professorial father dropped in at just the right places. 

More Arts Less Martial” takes a number of smaller bits that by themselves hit home and sews them together to make one larger, more grand piece of art. Although it’s similar to how a quilt is made, calling this project a quilt seems a little demeaning (with apologies to any quilt-makers who may be reading this). With the addition of “that thing he does” in his Tae Kwon Do class as a closer, this is no quilt. What Brody has created is a beautiful tapestry.

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