Spit Take Saturday: Tom Shillue

51XAsonDjrL._SL500_AA280_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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For the past ten months, Tom Shillue has been on a comedy marathon, releasing one new album every month, each with its own theme. With Heyday, he is nearly to the finish line of what has so far been a successful experiment. He has done a remarkable job putting out consistently funny work, producing this series of Moth-like personal stories.



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Spit Take Saturday: Tom Shillue

impossiblethumbWelcome 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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Midway through describing a random meeting with The Waltons actor Richard Thomas, Tom Shillue interrupts himself to marvel at the number of times people have incredulously asked how much truth his stories contain. “It’s all very basic stuff up here. I’m not rocking anybody’s world, right?” Shillue asserts, continuing, “Why in holy hell would I make up anything? I mean, if I was making this stuff up it would be profoundly uninteresting, wouldn’t it? It’s friggin’ boring! I ran into John Boy? Who gives a crap?”


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Spit Take Saturday: Tom Shillue

51tRQr3VaRL._SL500_AA280_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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Throughout The Spit Take’s coverage of Tom Shillue’s 12 in 12 project, we’ve used the word “experiment” a few times to describe the venture. That word choice is no accident; Shillue’s endeavor to release 12 albums in 12 months is utterly experimental, as even for someone with the utmost confidence in his or her comic ability, it’d be fairly difficult to guarantee success at the outset of such a project. Yet despite perceived high and low marks in the series, Shillue’s experiment must be deemed a success. We are at the three-quarters mark, and with each album that passes it becomes clearer and clearer that Shillue’s melding of sustained quality and prolificness is, frankly, unheard of.


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Spit Take Saturday: Tom Shillue

shillueWelcome 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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“Edgy” isn’t the word that jumps to mind when describing the likeable, profanity-free storyteller Tom Shillue. Thus his decision to devote one album in his “12 in 12” project to racier material seems like more of a challenge to himself than a sampling of his material. It’s a brave choice to venture outside of his comfort zone as part of this grand experiment, and his immense talent means that even though taboo-busting isn’t the best use of his storytelling skills, the album is still very funny.

“Racism,” the first of two tracks on the 29-minute “Edgy,” begins with the strongest material. His musings on white panic and whether he’s inadvertently contributing to a culture of racism are both clever and mixed with an appropriate amount of liberal guilt. But the second half of the track, about whether women should rule the world, is more a story about telling a joke than a joke in itself. Comparing the Manhattan crowd at the taping with a past, über-liberal Brooklyn audience who had rejected his pro-male defense, one assumes he hoped to re-capture a great, confrontational set but instead gets a slightly put-off but mostly just unconvinced crowd.
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Spit Take Saturday: Tom Shillue

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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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Recorded at the Buell Theatre in Denver, “Big Room is the second of 12 consecutive monthly releases by Tom Shillue. It was recorded by Shillue himself over two shows with a combined audience, according to his estimate, of 3,600 people. He was opening for Jim Gaffigan.

As The Spit Take’s review of Shillue’s first album of the series, “Bigger, Stronger, Faster,” appropriately puts it: “This is a project worth following. Shillue is off to a strong start. Now he just needs eleven more 35-minute chunks as good as this one, and he’ll be set.”

Big Room is a 31.5-minute album, but there are only about 25 minutes of on-stage comedy, each of the two tracks being bookended by Shillue speaking directly into the recorder. Moreover, while each of the three tracks on his first album is built around its own self-contained story, “Big Room”’s two tracks are each opening sets for Gaffigan. By virtue of this premise, neither set allows Shillue room to fully explore his stories and tease out the details. Instead, each finds Shillue appropriately hitting on a few key areas, weaving them together the way any good opener should and would.

This is not to say that “Big Room” is worse than its predecessor, or by any means a bad album. Far from it. It is, however, a different album, and in this way it makes Shillue’s project even more intriguing. His first two releases are decidedly built around two distinct premises, which poses the question: What will his third album bring?


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