Product Review: “50 Shades of Greg”

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Greg Asdourian amuses himself. Every allusion or gotcha elicits an understated chortle. Whether apart of an audience’s flurry, or a solitary, trepid chuckle, Greg has a finger on the pulse…Greg’s pulse. It’s hard to describe: “jolly” is banal hack; “smug” is harshly critical; “cocksure” is too presumptuous of motives and mentality. There it is again. A hushed, appreciative assurance.

50 Shades of Greg, the sophomoric self-release from Bay Area-based comedian Greg Asdourian, is ripe with personalized ethos. He’s broadly built, besuited, heavily self-deprecating, and classically observant of “set-up, punch”. Basically, he has the exterior of a 1920’s Chicago gangster, the anxiety of a 1960’s Greenwich Villager, and sensibilities of a modern, suburban intellectual, albeit, West Costal. There are no sybaritic bombast, no metaphoric overtures. Stand-up, as a craft, isn’t challenged or changed. The world does not shake, nor do the institutions crumble. In a deluge of striving and straining, in a world of unsatisfied destroyers and disillusioned sojourners, it’s hard being “fine”. 50 Shades of Greg is fine. It’s written well, it’s performed efficiently. At times it panders, other times its obtuse. Some of it sounds sarcastically chiding, when the crowd groans because they think they should. Some of it sounds bitter, when the audience displays or feigns interest or empathy. It’s autobiographical without revelation. It’s humbled yet curt. It utilizes all the tropes of palatable, two-drink minimum, insipid slice-of-life comedy. Serviceable, middling, extant. 

In a sincere, lucid way, the album paints its author without taking liberties. The material and mood is an ode to a deep love of entertainment. Greg Asdourian, on a path of his own volition, is—literally and figuratively—on the road. And whether 50 Shades of Greg is a signpost to a long, evolving career, or a drop in the ocean of the democratized digital age, well, that’s completely up to those who follow.

50 Shades of Greg. Recorded 10/8/2013 at the San Francisco Punch Line. Released 1/13/2014. iTunes. Amazon. Spotify. Official Website