As I listen to these albums for review, I usually keep my notebook on hand to jot down any moments that jump out at me which I want to be sure to mention in my final write-up. In general these notations are pretty brief, seven or eight short sentences that serve as milestones along the journey.
With Andy Hendrickson’s Underachiever I filled an entire page.
And it’s all good stuff. I probably won’t be able to touch on all of them but suffice it to say there are a lot of great things going on here. Whether he’s explaining how he “runs very expensively” or grows weary of the toddler seated next to him on a plane (“Hi! Hi! Hi!”) or comparing relationships to books, Hendrickson is performing at the top of his game as he approaches a vast array of topics without abandon. He’s a straight shooter who tells it like it is without coming across as bitter or jaded.
As a result, the crowd follows him willingly, laughing all the way as he navigates waters such as girls who wear low-cut shirts and cross necklaces simultaneously. His material is very relatable and we understand just where he’s coming from. We’ve all been there and it’s nice to have someone as funny as Hendrickson along for the ride to help us laugh at life’s little hiccups. We’ve all gotten long-winded voice mails from our mothers and we’ve all experienced what it’s like when our friends grow up and start having kids (Boo). Hendrickson takes such situations and injects them with his own unique style of humor. And he does it well.
What is just as entertaining are the insights Hendrickson clues us in on that we may not have picked up on before. Fire hydrants are like Facebook updates for dogs and living with a sleepwalking boxer who is prone to night terrors may not be the ideal roommate situation. Fortunately for us, his awkward living arrangement is our gain and the laugh count is solid and consistent.
Hendrickson has various ways of approaching the funny and he excels at each one of them. At one moment he may choose to go with storytelling (as he does when he talks about his interactions with his parents), later he opts for clever, insightful metaphor (his friend’s relationship with his fiancee is likened to an old Tootsie Pop commercial. How many licks will it take to break down his soul?) and sometimes he chooses to simply fire from the hip. When it comes to living up to his older brother, a Navy Seal with a Master’s in Business from Harvard, nothing sums it up quite like a simple, “Thanks a lot. Nice shadow, dick.“
The rapport he has with his brother is interesting and when Hendrickson shares with us his sibling’s secret to success (Hendrickson’s response? “You just put me down, taught me a life lesson, and wrote me a joke all with one swing”),we realize witty straight talk may very well be an enviable Hendrickson family trait.
It’s probably time I begin wrapping this up and there’s still a lot I haven’t touched on. I never got to the wine-loving girl who cleverly bookends the album. I didn’t get to talk about the 15-pound baby whose arrival spurs both a party and a funeral. Oh yeah, and there’s the one about the feature on a first-generation Kindle Hendrickson wishes his long-winded friends would develop. And his closer — his killer closer! — about the girl wearing glasses.
And then … well … you get the point.
There’s a lot on this album that’s gonna make you laugh. Hendrickson brings to the table everything you hope to find on a great comedy album … and then he gives you more.
Underachiever, my foot.