Mike Brody is a likable guy with a lot of energy and on his new album, That’s Not What I Meant, his love for comedy and being on the stage is evident. He covers a lot of basic topics we are all familiar with and can relate to and he’s quick on his feet when the unexpected happens.
And yet…despite all that…I didn’t find myself laughing as much as I’d hoped to.
That’s not to say that Brody doesn’t have some good bits. I enjoyed his comparison of his lovemaking style to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and I also liked his theory on separate AM/PM kindergarten classes and how it affects those in attendance. Other than that, though, it was tough for me to find moments that really clicked and the laugh-out-loud count was slim.
Part of the reason may be the fact that Brody moves very quickly from one topic to the next and often times it feels like he’s barely scratched the surface before he’s off to the next story. Many times it was as if he was on to something, almost like the laugh was in the neighborhood, right around the corner, but as soon as we got where you could almost feel the big laugh coming, we pulled the car over to get some gas.
To be completely honest, though, I think it’s my own fault.
Ever have one of those moments where your mind picks up on something – the smallest, littlest detail – and suddenly that’s the only thing you can see? I remember the first time someone told me about the little “cigarette burns” in the upper right-hand corner of films that signaled the projectionist that the end of the reel was coming up and it was almost time to switch to the other projector. I was working at a small movie theater in Indiana and once I learned about these little dots that show up every 20 minutes, I couldn’t un-see them for the rest of my life (although now that more and more theaters are going digital, they are quickly becoming a thing of the past). Small and inconsequential and until then I’d never noticed them…until I was made aware of them. After that, it was pretty much all I saw. (Edward Norton explains them much better in the film Fight Club. The only clip of it I could find on YouTube is this one, a little promo someone made for their movie reviewing blog.(Not me.))
In the same manner, Brody has a little quirk that I picked up on halfway through my second listening of the album and after I noticed it, it was all I could hear. To put it simply: he laughs at his own jokes. It’s not a constant habit, but the further on we get into the album and the more energy he picks up, the more frequently it happens until, by the last track, it’s in nearly every punchline. It’s not a straight-forward “ha ha ha ha” but more of a laugh-while-talking thing. The last word of each punchline isn’t spoken as much as it is exhaled, and then it is followed by a loud gasp as he inhales to recover. And, as I mentioned earlier, once I heard it, it was all I could hear. Or, to put it in Brody-esque deliver, it was all I could heaaar. Pause. Gaaasp.
Yes, I know, it’s nit-picky, but it did affect the way I heard the project. What made it stand out to me all the more was when it would happen after punchlines that didn’t strike me as incredibly funny. Combine that with one of my biggest pet peeves (comedians laughing at their own jokes) and it soured my experience.
But that’s just me. I am completely willing to admit you may have an entirely different reaction to Brody’s comedy. The audience in the club seems to be having a genuinely enjoyable time and he garners some big laughs. I never claim that my opinion is the right one and I don’t discount those whose thoughts may be different. And hey, if I’ve ever come across as pompous or superior, well…that’s not what I meant, either.