Product Review: Kris Tinkle [Almost Awesome]

Kris Tinkle – Almost Awesome – Rooftop Comedy – 2009 – 24 Tracks

Kris Tinkle is a blistered-hand coal miner posing for a traveling photographer circa 1885: holding a shovel, head cocked to the side with a smirk on his grimy face. He’s firmly entrenched in his backbreaking, ball busting labor and doesn’t mind that his only reward is eating, drinking, smoking and fucking. He doesn’t want to change minds, he doesn’t want to swing his book-reading dick in your face; he merely wants to tell funny stories by the fire.

This would all describe Kris Tinkle had he been a migrant worker. Tinkle is comic and that’s close enough.

Almost Awesome, Kris Tinkle’s debut, is a largely anecdotal album covering his time as a substitute teacher, being a phone operator for the hearing impaired, former relationships, sex, drugs, and other mishaps. The spirit of the album is best conveyed by Kris’ allegory of the Special Olympics. According to Kris, the first week of training for the Special Olympics involves a rigorous amount of celebrating. After twirling through the air, regardless of the outcome, the special needs athlete (dubbed “Handies” by Tinkle) stand up and raise one fist (“I did it!”) Think Tommie Smith but with a helmet.

This image resonates with Tinkle’s comedy because it represents Tinkle’s proud depreciation. Kris Tinkle calls out every flaw, fluke, and flunk evident or prevalent, jostled in stories that start strong but end “meh” (on the grand scale of goodness). Kris Tinkle operates under the mantra: to name it is to claim it. Kris calling himself a caveman takes away from the power of the insult. Kris informing the audience of a lack of money or waning sexual prowess allows him to become grand. Kris understands that in the end it doesn’t really matter what you have, you will not be denied the human experience.

“See that story and a couple of other ones, I realize that most of my stories are almost awesome. Like they start off good but they end up shitty.”

My Favorite Track: (Dog with a Pierced Tongue) 

Kris Tinkle has a number of comedic constructs at his disposal as he talks of body-mod-dogs and porn practices. Aurally, he commands an unique register and cadence: a weird blend of medium rasp and strained accents dictates a rhythm peppered by “like”s, “um”s, and “dude”s. Analogies provide cover fire for granadesque, clever turns of phrase (like “speed trials” and “[assholes] turning pro”). Kris possesses an eye for audience temperament and enlists their natural reaction to continue the joke, tripping their sentimental hair-trigger to play with the strings like an energetic gato. He can also leave a “bookmark” in accordance to uber-depravity or a joke’s conclusion with a cascading laugh or a sidebar. The supreme weapon in Tinkle’s arsenal is his theatrics: accentuating bits with humorous dramatizations in silly voices. Only drawback to this practice is that some reenactments involve a visual element that is lost to the listener. I don’t know what a “Hurricane of Dicks” or Kris Tinkle dancing looks like but I wish I did. It’d aid in the understanding process. Comedy albums should have a Youtube link or a .gif file attached; code it in flash, make it an extra feature… (MARKETING!)

The release of Almost Awesome marks an interesting point in modern comedy. The album, released through a boutique comedy brand, is like an establishing shot on Mr. Stanton (aka Tinkle) and the rest is to be determined. Live stand-up comedy is a niche, specialty release and even more so if the comedian isn’t nationally known. It’s like 7-inch releases from local-unknown punk/hardcore bands because the proliferation of underground comedy albums cater to a small group of chuckle-heads and fellow comedians. That’s not a bad thing; it continues the recent influx of comedic audio that is charging up a movement. Such releases help present fresh and polished comedians to people outside of their region or tour schedule while adding an actual ware for the comedians to sell at shows. Almost Awesome serves that purpose: fun, vibrant, obscure comedy that you should check out.

Thank you for reading.

-OJ