Last night I was talking with Nick, a friend and fellow comedy enthusiast, and as usually happens when we get together and talk about our favorite comedians, the subject eventually came around to Joe DeRosa. Nick wondered if DeRosa had anything new out and I was happy to report that yes, as a matter of fact, “Mistakes Were Made: The B Sides” had just recently become available. “How is it?” he and I was able to sum up my thoughts in five words:
“It’s Joe DeRosa. It’s funny.”
Nick understood immediately. It’s DeRosa. Of course it’s a funny CD (or, in this case, double CD). This project is a compilation of new material and bits that never made the final cut on his previous albums. When patched together like a stand-up version of Frankenstein’s monster, it makes for an impressive final product that comedy fans are sure to enjoy. At times it’s a bit jarring as we jump from one club to the next - the various quality of production levels are quite blatant - but after a few seconds your ears assimilate to the audio juxtapositions and it’s back to business.
If you’re familiar with DeRosa’s comedy, then you already have an idea of what to expect: a guy dealing with life’s frustrations in an exceptionally funny way. He laments the pricey process of trying to catch a movie in New York City, confesses his jealousy of three fat guys walking through the mall armed with unicorns and a cake, and reveals the no-longer-secret tests Daters Of DeRosa must pass.
You could call DeRosa an observational comic but one who specifically observes people. He doesn’t bother with bits about inanimate objects (OK, there’s one brief exception with a subway car) but instead finds himself fascinated with his encounters with fellow citizens. He’s a people-watcher extraordinaire and no one he bumps into is safe from being included in his material; Not the Guatemalan guy peeing in the hall, not the stripper who broke through the fourth wall, and not his favorite porn star hiding a little (or maybe not-so-little) secret.
Just over a year ago, right after his previous CD was released, I was able to catch up with DeRosa after a show and we spoke briefly about what was next for him. He hinted at darker elements to come, of using his comedy to dig into deeper areas, and they’re here on this album. We are presented with the eight (no wait, make that seven) stages of life and DeRosa presents his theory that no matter which phase we find ourselves in, we’re never truly free. It's a bleak outlook but not so bleak that DeRosa can't find humor along the way. He delves into life and death and opens up about his fear about being wrong - and right - about what happens in the afterlife. Of course, DeRosa is able to tread these deeper waters and still make us laugh. Encouraging genuine introspection while simultaneously making people laugh is no small feat and DeRosa pulls it off effortlessly.
This is my fourth time having the pleasure of reviewing an album by DeRosa and my fourth time raving about how much I enjoyed it. "Mistakes Were Made," you say? Please.
I wish I screwed up this successfully.