The aptly-named Comedy Nerds have made a discovery that’s quite welcome. The State’s “Comedy for Gracious Living” - the lost album recorded by the group for Warner Brothers records. It’s apparently been available via torrent files, but the slightly-less-aptly-titled blog Unheard Music (only less aptly-titled since “The State” album isn’t entirely music) has posted it in a place that the far less web-savvy can get to it. If you’re a State completest or curious, visit Unheard Music for that link right now.
It’s little surprise Comedy Central opted to release the Ruminations author/columnist’s debut digitally: like June’s Bo Burnhan precursor, it’s a far less riskier way to roll the dice on an untested, or, in Karo’s case, highly polarizing talent. On one hand there are the 50,000-plus mailing-list devotees the animated 20-something has amassed since his freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania. On the other there are those who have actually seen Karo perform outside of a Student Rec Center. The latter may be inclined the write him off as Dane Cook by way of a Frat House; an alcohol-and-sex-obsessed (and moderately sexist) preacher on the merits of Dudedom not nearly as funny as he is a pandering to a crowd that doesn’t know any better. And those latter detractors would be pretty much dead on.
Talk’s hour of material falls into three categories: Getting drunk, getting laid and getting laid while drinking. There are shades of Dave Attell in the tales of excess (and in a later chunk on a one-time-use vibrating cock ring), as well as surprising hints of Jeff Foxworthy (“You know you’re a Voluntary Alcoholic if…”). Callbacks are shoehorned in with brute force, and even when he attempts a bit of crowd work, patter concerning nachos falls distractingly flat, though far more distracting is the album’s mixing, which grants the hooting, shrieking audience as much play as the headliner. As far as Karo’s observations on females, er, sorry…“chicks” go, there’s little introspection and even less empathy. “Breakups are tough…if you’re a girl,” he chuckles. “If I had a girlfriend I was thinking about proposing to, I’d relish it as long as possible. I’d buy a ring…and then wear it on my cock. And then get a tattoo right there that said, ‘Ain’t payback a bitch?’”
Upon noticing a “hot chick” in the car zooming past at 60 miles per hour, Karo quips, “I guess I kinda just felt she was hot. I think maybe I had Spider-Sense. ‘Cause my balls started tingling.” He’s definitely got an admirable flare for business, but he has yet to use that power for good instead of evil. But give Karo time. Now that he’s staring down 30, he might venture from the stifling Bros Before Hoes Approach. The storytelling skills and likability are there, it’s just a matter of applying it to material of substance. Surely he wouldn’t mind joining the ranks of his peers who get paid, laid and praised?
He’s easily in my current Top 10, Top 5, even Top 2 of comics working today not simply for his material/persona, but Louis CK’s post-Lucky Louie re-dedication to the art form (see also a post-Fear Factor Joe Rogan) has ultimately yielded three hours in three years (Shameless, Chewed Up, and autumn’s Hilarious tour) with room left to develop a pilot for CBS and pop up in David Wain’s Role Models and Ricky Gervais’ upcoming This Side of the Truth. As he recently put it,
“Okay, I had a TV show, it was good, it’s over. What do I have the best chance of actually getting? Being Steven Spielberg, even though no one’s asking me to direct movies or thinks I can? At the time I got a new agent who said, ‘I can put you in theaters all over the country and you could make a living and more doing stand-up, and work wherever you want to.’ I thought, ‘Well, I could do that and try to be as good a stand-up as possible, like, try to get to the point where I’m a really, really good comedian. And if I do that, probably things will go well. I don’t think it’ll be a wasted effort. I don’t think no one won’t give a shit that I got really much better at that.’ So that was kind of the way I went. And I got addicted to laughter. I can’t get off the road. I just love having such a good time. I’m so obsessed with these specials now and I get to really just open my mouth and say how I’m really feeling at last.”
In honor of its December 16 CD/DVD release, herewith is a sampling of context-free Chewed Up highlights:
“I would happily blow 20 guys in an alley with bleeding dicks so I could get AIDS and then fuck a deer and then kill it with my AIDS. I would do that in a second.”
“She got an abortion on Christmas Eve? Oh my God!”
“I will grind it up in the Cuisinart and blow it up her ass with a straw!”
“When you’re getting ready to be a dad nobody pulls you aside and says, ‘You know, you’re going to be cleaning the vagina a lot because every time she takes a shit it goes straight up her twat.’ They don’t tell you that!”
“Women are non-violent, but they will shit inside of your heart.”
“I was thinking the other day that you can figure out how bad a person you are by how soon after September 11th you masturbated, like how long you waited…and for me it was between the two buildings going down.”
“What are you, out of your fucking mind? You think I’m just going to rape you on the off chance that hopefully you’re into that shit?”
“When you become a woman is when people come out of your vagina and step on your dreams… you’re not a woman ‘til you’ve got long, chewed-up nipples. And you’re not a man ‘til you’ve sucked one of those fuckin’ things either, by the way.”
CK’s Hilarious tour continues into 2009; look for a filming date sometime in the first quarter.
MTV launched a massive Hulu-style music video website earlier this week and it’s pretty great if you’d like to go study that 80s-90s art form (not so much now, right?). But with my interest in the funny, I had to go through and see what comedians are on there. Setting punchlines to music is real dangerous. Watching these will make you appreciate Zach Galifianakis and Demetri Martin all the more. This will probably be the most painful post ever to view in its entirety.
Sam Kinison’s “Wild Thing”
I suppose this one is debatable, but to me this was the biggest sign that Kinison was starting to diverge from the shock and surprise of his screaming to making it all about the screaming and the revenge that went in tandem with it. There’ are no setups in this, just the punches.
Rodney Dangerfield’s “Rappin’ Rodney”
I’ve always throught of Rodney Dangerfield as kind of a transitional comic - one who clearly had borscht belt influences, but who took that rapid-fire gag machine and combined it with the persona driven act of today. It never felt creaky. Except right here, when Rodney one-liners are meant to be a rap.
Jeff Foxworthy’s “Party All Night”
Even when this was made in the early 90s, I don’t think anybody had thought of Foxworthy as a comic with much to say about single life. Wow, look, punks dancing to country music! That’s crazy! Hard to believe it was directed by Weird Al.
Hey, isn’t that Todd Glass as a cop at the end?
Howie Mandel’s “Watusi”
I had never seen this one before, but good Christ is it horrific. It fits his trademark prop-tastic nonsense style, but the non-sequiturs lose even the semblance of charm when set to music. I tried to watch a second time to give a more detailed thoughts, but I just can’t get through it.
Funny thing: Chris Rock also had a video on the new MTV site (and not for “No Sex in the Champagne Room”) but when I went looking for it to write the post, it was gone. Definitely a sign he’s got good management.
If you happen to have Sirius Satellite Radio, tune in to the Raw Dog Comedy Channel (#104) at 1 PM EST today to listen to a special program in honor of the release of Mitch Hedberg’s album “Do You Believe in Gosh?” The show will include Lynn Shawcroft (Hedberg’s Widow), Dave Attell and Comedy Central Records Jack Vaughn. And me. I’m very flattered to talk about Mitch and this album, which is a wonderful document of how this man made people laugh daily.
Speaking of “Do You Believe in Gosh?”, it’ll be in stores tomorrow September 9th. But I have three (3) copies to giveaway in case you’re broke.
The much anticipated album from the late comic Mitch Hedberg takes one of his final shows and ultimately shows a bit more of the depth and speed of his comic mind, demonstrating that the man was more than just a joke machine. My favorite track involves some impromptu work with a friendly heckler who has all the answers, but you’ll have to hear that for yourself when the album is released next week.
But here’s some snippets from some of the other tracks that demonstrate how sweetly and smoothly his joke machine did work.
Here’s a great ecard that’s a wonderful way to introduce Mitch’s album to folks who aren’t necessarily the comedy nerds you and I am. It has most of the material you hear here.
“Do You Believe in Gosh?” arrives in store September 9th.
Many of Mitch Hedberg‘s fans are looking forward to the release of the comic’s posthumous album. Mitch’s widow Lynn Shawcroft, who’s been putting together the tracks, yesterday let me in on the title for the album. It’ll be called “Do You Believe in Gosh?”, a phrase taken from one of Mitch’s notebooks. “Do You Believe in Gosh?” will be released on September 9th.
To give you an idea of what Mitch’s notebooks look like, here’s a page my friend Ian Lendler sent me that they handed out at the Mitch Hedberg tribute at the 2007 San Francisco Sketchfest. Here you see a couple of jokes and then a set list for a Letterman appearance.
Update: Get a preview of the album and listen to some sample bits from “Do You Believe in Gosh?”