Spit Take Saturday: Gary Gulman

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Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.” 

Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that she feels all you comedy lovers out there will appreciate.

So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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Despite the title of his latest Comedy Central special, “In This Economy,” Gary Gulman doesn’t really have much to say about the financial state of our country. Money is very much on his mind throughout the special, but his jokes are more microeconomic than macroeconomic, focused primarily on his own one-man financial system. He starts out with a seemingly dated rant against Blockbuster Video, but that soon segues into an amusing bit about Netflix, which cleverly encapsulates the absurd minutiae of the video-streaming service. “In this economy, if you’re not watching a movie, you’re losing money,” Gulman says to explain his obsession with getting the most out of his monthly subscription fee, and he’s certainly not the only person to feel this way.

A large portion of the special is taken up by a long, digressive examination of the comparative wealth of Bill Gates and Donald Trump, which Gulman uses both to take easy shots at Trump and to offer a surprisingly detailed analysis of the difference between the ultra-rich and average folks (in this case, Gulman himself). He takes a lot of detours, but he keeps coming back to one figure: $59 billion, the net worth of Bill Gates. Gulman talks about the joys of finding a $20 bill in the pocket of an old coat (“If he has an old coat, it’s the coat Abe Lincoln was shot in,” Gulman says of Gates), and then breaks down, number by number, what the equivalent of finding a $20 would be for Gates. It’s like one of those NPR segments explaining the financial crisis, except goofier and funnier and more personal.

When Gulman talks about how finding that $20 changed his plans for his entire day, it’s believable and relateable but also completely ridiculous, especially when the changed plans mostly involve being able to spring for the extra two-dollar side of guacamole at Chipotle. But Gulman makes that side of guacamole representative of all the small indignities of being broke, while also describing a funny exchange between himself and the Chipotle employee who dispenses the condiment.

Sometimes Gulman hammers obvious points home a little too hard, and opening with the over-the-top condemnation of a dying company (Blockbuster) seems like overkill, but his persistence often pays off with funny moments. “What I forgot about “The Karate Kid” is that it sucked,” he says before launching into a brutal takedown of the beloved movie classic of many people’s childhoods. Gulman goes point by point through why the main character’s signature crane-kick move would be woefully ineffective, but he also gets big laughs just from the way he pronounces “karate.”

For all of his astute mathematical analyses of wealth, Gulman is mostly just a laid-back dude making some laid-back observations about life, many of which are pretty basic. What he does well on “In This Economy” is make observations about such weighty topics as the gap between the rich and the poor feel just as important (or not) as late-night stoner conversation-starters like examining the relative flaws of a cheesy Eighties movie.

By Josh Bell

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Here are some other Brown Paper Tickets comedy events coming up that feature fellow Last Comic Standing veterans:

Saturday, January 12 I Hang Out With Me / NYC Podcast Festival with Myq KaplanNew York, New York  In which you (human listener) get to (but don’t have to) hang out with (that is to say, listen to) comedian Myq Kaplan (pronounced “Mike Kaplan,” I know! I agree with the way you feel about it!) as he hangs out with (that is to say, talks to) other humans in ways that are meaningful, fun, both or neither.

Friday, January 18 I Bonnie McFarlane at The Comedy Shoppe @ Just Jake’sMontclair, New Jersey  Bonnie did her first open mic in Vancouver, Canada. The manager of the club told her she should enter a contest, The Search for Canada’s Funniest New Comic. She did and she won. She moved to New York where she landed a manager, an agent and taped her first half hour special which still airs on Comedy Central. She became a regular on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and started headlining shows across the country. Most recently Bonnie taped her first HBO hour special, which is currently airing. Bonnie continues to pursue stand up, writing and acting and has created several multi media stage shows like “The Fake, Fake Show” starring Zach Galifinakis and a short film starring Patton Oswald called “Sushi Whore.”

Friday, January 25 I Double Headline Show w/ John Mulrooney & Joey Gay at Valley Forge CasinoKing of Prussia, Pennsylvania  To kick off 2013 at the Valley Forge Casino OUTFront Entertainment put together a DOUBLE headline show featuring John Mulrooney and “Last Comic Standing” veteral Joey Gay. Anyone that purchases tickets to the show will get in to the casino after the show for FREE! Music, dancing, drink specials and a MEET & GREET with the comedians directly after the show!