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!
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?