Text © Robert Barry Francos
Images from the Internet
Cut Above Stupid
Uproar Entertainment, 2011
Andrew Norelli, I would like to point out at the top of this review, was the winner of the 2010 World Series of Comedy, in Las Vegas.
I get the feeling that the title of this release does not seem as much self-depreciative as the way he views the world. But it’s this observational direction that makes him so humorous.
His formula is based on a simple set of principles: the topic, the person saying it, and the verbalized thought bubble of what he would like to say, or thinking. From that simple method, he brings to light the ridiculousness of the world around us, sometimes with a “are you kidding me?” feel, and other times as a smart ass.
For example, he discusses Lady Gaga, not for her music as much the shock value of her fashion in the cutlure, or more acturately the question of why it is such as big deal. He points out that she’s a pop star, so of course she does this, it’s expected in the field; now if she dressed like that as a real estate agent, that would be something else.
At another point he talks about a friend who is covered in tattoos, who claims it’s addicting. Norelli points out that considering some of the other vices in his life, it’s obvious that self-control is issue rather than dependence.
One of my favorite comments is when he asked the nerds to please stop updating the technology because he keeps falling behind. The way puts it is make makes it a gem, of course.
Of course, there is more about gays and grass, how banning marriage is not going to stop homosexuality and how people use medical reasons as an excuse to get the weed.
I am trying to not step on his material because there is so much of it that is quoteable that it would be an easy thing to do. Okay, I’m going to relate one of his punchlines, so if you wish, skip the rest of his paragraph, and my apologies to Andrew, but I liked this direction that much: in the final bit he wonders how Afgahnistan can be the number one producer of heroin and not have one decent band. He goes on further giving a band name example that really made me laugh.
Andrew Norvelli’s pieces are mostly pretty quick and the topics change often, so if he talks about something that doesn’t touch your life, just give it a minute. He’ll get there.
Keith Lowell Jensen
Cats Made of Rabbits
Apprehensive Films, 2011
I was a bit nervous at the start of this hour-plus comedy record by “irreverent” comedian Keith Lowell Jensen (KJL), who goes by the title of “The Atheist Comedian.” His introduction by pointing out that his show opener, Chazz Hawkins, is black (despite the nice nod in the liner notes), seemed a bit, well, unoriginal, as was the following bit about old people and forwarded emails.
Then, not long into his routines, he starts commenting on his wife’s pregnancy, and I started smiling with what he was saying. Sure, there was the standard I-don’t-know-why-I’m-saying-‘I’m’-pregnant, yet he brings us into the delivery room in a way that kept bringing me back.
However, it’s the bit after that, “Into the Woods,” where he truly had me. The story of how his 11 year old nephew and 10 friends takes him out into the woods (of a gated community, he points out) to show off some BMX trix, and what results from it, stays funny throughout. While I’ve never BMX’d in my life, the events in the story touched moments in my own life and had me laughing.
From there, he never lets up. He discusses dreams of trees with vaginas, and working for pro-marijuana and gay causes, though he is a non-smoker and straight. The way he describes his own homophobia is hysterical, i.e., afraid of gays as opposed to being hateful (KJL points out that gay-bashers aren’t homophobic, they’re “assholes”).
His strongest focus, and one of the things he is noted for (other than being profane) is saved for a large section that covers multiple tracks, and that is knocking the self-righteous religious, and their lack of belief in science, or in this case evolution (“they believe that Jesus rode a dinosaur”). And what is the focus of his rant to prove evolution? The track title “Crazy Dick Party” says it all. And his wife’s feminist approach had me LOL-ing. Yes, I went there.
Somehow, this leads to the topic of the positiveness of East Indian call centers, and by the time he reaches the title cut, he’s still going strong. When he comments about what to do if aliens show up, I had to sit and laugh; I didn’t see it coming.
Most of the style is observational of his life, but easily reflects to the listeners; well, most of them. If you’re upset by talks of atheism, the blindness of religion, or are turned off by vulgarity, you may want to think twice. But as for myself, obviously, my fears were unwarranted, and I received my laugh-share.
This show is also available in DVD form (see clip below).