Welcome to the newest weekly feature on the Brown Paper Tickets Blog, 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 ass-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 Spit Take Saturdays!
By John Wenzel
Zany cover and title aside, Ryan Singer’s “Comedy Wonder Town” doesn’t contain a great deal of laughs or insight until about halfway through, when Singer dials down the dick jokes and asks the audience to go a bit deeper.
The opening tracks aren’t terrible, mind you. They just happen to sound like a road dog’s late-night material from two decades ago—pleasant but overdone, and lacking an interesting point of view.
“I could never date a woman who has murdered somebody before, because I know I would never, ever again win another fight or argument for the rest of my life,” Singer says on “Death Row Love.” “No matter how committed I am to my side of the cause, clearly she’s willing to see this sh*t all the way to the end. She’s got a short fuse and follow-through, bro. You betta watch yo ass.”
Singer’s buddy-buddy tone and avalanche of “bro”s and “dude”s feel eager-to-please, especially since the bits are so rapidly delivered and self-contained that they verge on catchphrases. But this is a comedy album, after all, and packing 24 tracks into 52 minutes isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Then Singer invokes the title of the album—which was recorded, like his 2010 debut “How to Get High Without Drugs,” at Go Bananas in Cincinnati—and things get interesting. “Here’s a rule about Comedy Wonder Town,” he says, his mild Appalachian drawl barely containing a certain L.A. unctuousness, like a Blue Collar Comedy version of “Parks and Recreation” character Jean-Ralphio. “You have to keep an open heart and an open mind. Some of this shit might get a little weird. But I’m always going to throw you a life preserver in the shape of a dick joke. So if you feel yourself drowning in that weirdness, grab onto that dick, citizen, and come back to the boat.”
At 5:10, “Hands That Built Human History” is the second-longest track on an album that flies by like a Guided by Voices LP—patched together, loose and short on the usual filler. (Is it a coincidence that, like GBV leader Robert Pollard, Singer is also a former schoolteacher from Dayton, Ohio?) But afterwards, Singer sounds more exploratory and fearless. Perhaps it’s a function of joke-sequencing, or his rhythmic energy, but it propels the album into new and far more interesting territory.
We get to hear a delicate tension between style and material, between a fast-talking, at times overly-affected voice and clever observational punchlines. Singer offers a bit of character work on “Two Rooms Available,” “Why Won’t She Love Me” and “Monster Hunter,” briefly flashing his vocal range. And when he gets to “Babies Having Babies” and “Proper Neanderthal Family,” the awkward silence from the audience feels like a validation of his joyously bizarre ideas (think in-utero intercourse and emo cavemen).
He smartly weighs the difference between necessity and luxury with “Put Me on the List” and gets stoner-ontological with “I Know Zero” and “Letters and Numbers,” which in their own ways do justice to the great Mitch Hedberg. “Astronauts are nerds with huge nuts,” he says on “People in Space,” and you almost want to leap up and cheer in agreement. You just wish he would have gotten there sooner.
Since this album was recorded in Cinncinatti, we’ve decided to feature three great comedy events happening in the great state of Ohio:
Sunday, November 4 I Swinger State: An Evening of Left-Wing Comedy – Kent Ohio Join born and raised Ohio comics Jessica Halem (NYC), Dana Austin (Cleveland), Carey Callahan (Cleveland) and Anthony Savatt (Kent) as they raise funds for volunteer GOTV efforts in Portage County, Ohio. Some call Ohio a Swing State – we know what it really is – a Swinger State. Jessica Halem is what happens when you mix a hippie Midwest upbringing with a Sarah Lawrence education. The nationally touring comic brings brains and bawdiness to her racy, politically charged stage act and the result is little like a horny Gloria Steinem on nitrous oxide. Carey Callahan is a genderqueer humorist from the west side of Cleveland and Anthony Savatt continues to wow audiences with his lack of regret, seasoned audit of human flaws and complete disregard for modern hygiene.
Monday, November 5 I Drew Hastings, Josh Sneed, Geoff Tate Benefit Show for Trumpet Behavioral Health – Silverton, Ohio Stand-up comedy and music and raffles all for the benefit of Trumpet Behavioral Health, a center that takes care of autistic children. This is a great show for a great cause. There will be prizes and music and some of the best comedy available anywhere. DREW HASTINGS is the mayor of Hillsboro, Ohio and had his own, hour-long special on Comedy Central “Irked and Miffed” and has appeared on “Premium Blend” as well as multiple “Tonight Show” appearances. JOSH SNEED was featured on “Comedy Central Presents Josh Sneed” and Comedy Central‘s “Premium Blend.” GEOFF TATE was featured in Comedy Central‘s “Live at Gotham” and “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”
Thursday, November 8 I Deathsquad Comedy Show- Brian Redban, Tom Segura, Aaron Kleiber and Tony Hinchcliffe – Dayton, Ohio The Dub Pub on Thursday, November 8th will be a night of over the top insane comedy!! Featuring Brian Redban, Tom Segura, Aaron Kleiber and Tony Hinchcliffe! RAW AND UNCENSORED. Brian Redban A.K.A Deathsquad Godfather wears a slew of hats as a comedian, producer/co-host of the “Joe Rogan Experience Show” and Deathsquad Founder. He never fails, his comedy has the crowd in stiches and unsure what will come out of his mouth next. Tom Segura is a comedian originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, though he was raised in too many places to list. His television credits include “Conan,” “Comedy Central Presents” (half-hour special), Showtime‘s “Russell Peters Presents” and “Live at Gotham!” Aaron Kleiber has been entertaining his entire life – from on top of the coffee table for his Grandmother as a child – to the dinner table with his wife and kids today. Tony Hinchcliffe is a rising Los Angeles based stand-up comedian…with a style that combines edgy jokes and confidently executed improv.Tony is also the rare young television writer…Comedy Central‘s “The Burn.” He also contributed to the Comedy Central Roasts of Donald Trump and Charlie Sheen and wrote the 2011 Jeff Garlin one hour special “No Sugar Tonight.”