Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Geoff Tate's "Just Another Clown"

Wow. A lot can happen in a year.

Back in May 2013, Geoff Tate released “I Got Potential,” a stellar CD that eventually landed itself onto my year-end Best of 2013 list. It was a phenomenal introduction to a witty comedian whose trajectory I was excited to track. 

Fast-forward to today and…well…something happened. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but it was definitely something. With his new release, “Just Another Clown,” the air seems to have been let out of his tires. Tate’s entire persona has changed. His energy has dropped, his delivery has gone slack, and he just seems to be begrudgingly going through the motions. Oh, you want some jokes? Ok. Here.

Early in this new CD he mentions he is newly divorced. I don’t know if that’s to blame for the drastic shift in mood and tone but this is one of the rare cases where you can judge an album by its cover. The sad, lonely, guy you see before you is exactly who you get. There are sparks of genuine smiles here and there, but they are few and far between. 

Just to make sure I wasn’t remembering incorrectly, I went back and listened to his previous album and sure enough there is a notable difference. Tate simply doesn’t seem to be having fun this time around. He seems indifferent to the fact that there are a number of silences that just hang there and hearing a smattering of laughter only emphasizes the point that something has gone amiss. 

I loved Tate as a storyteller and this time around his tales have moved more into the area of rambling. He recounts the time a woman asked him for directions in a strange city and the set-up seems to take much longer than is necessary. When he finally gets to the punchline, you might think the story sounds somewhat familiar. A similar gag was done on “Seinfeld” in the episode when the gang went to Hollywood, only it was done much more efficiently.

Most of Tate’s time is spent talking almost fondly about his days as a drug addict and again there are few laughs to be found as he rambles on and on about his encounters with cocaine, crack, and anything else you can imagine. It’s not unlike running into an old friend at a high school reunion you haven’t seen in a long time. You remember him as the fun guy; the life of the party and now you find yourself cornered, wondering how much he’s had to drink as he tells story after story of his past exploits. He genuinely thinks  his tales are humorous but the more he opens up, the more badly you feel for him. 

I truly hope this album is just a fluke and Tate can pull himself out of the darkness he seems to be in. I remember how fun it was being around him and now I just want to give him a hug and ask him if everything is OK. I want this clown to smile again.

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