Product Review: “50 Shades of Greg”

image

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.

Read More

Product Review: If These Balls Could Talk

Whooping applause welcomes Louis Katz, comedian/director/person, to the crowning of his album recording; a hot, Sacramento crowd. Such love isn’t something to squander, oh no, as Katz returns the sentiment with immediate self-deprecation, the kind characterized by skyward chin, erect spine and a flaccid penis hanging through a gaping, open fly.

Read More

Product Review: Kelly McCarron’s “I’d Eat Them Both”

The night narrowly avoided calamity; Kelly was pulled over by an officer of the law en route to the show. Luckily the officer only issued a warning. “Wow, I learned something… I’m really pretty!” declares the sprightly comedian. Thus sets the tone for I’d Eat Them Both, a stand-up comedy album from Kelly McCarron, recorded live at the historic Purple Onion in San Francisco.

Read More

Product Review: Kevin Camia’s “Kindness”

“Kindness”, the stand-up comedy album by Kevin Camia, is Red Velvet Devil’s Food Cake. The humor is rich, dark, moist, sweet, satisfying and presented in a leveled, circular form. Even if every shameful thought while consuming the album is “I shouldn’t be doing this,” the audience is compelled to continue the gluttonous decadence all the way to the water closet. “Kindness” reveals the truth that everything we eat ultimately conveys: the world is shit. At least Kevin Camia allows you to laugh at that fact with his smooth, satirical tones.

Camia is a Bay Area comedian with a gentle shell enveloping a dark, frustrated core. He lulls the audience with comforting pats on the head before yanking their hair with a jolting punchline. Camia has mastered the art of turning everything horrifying and lewd into assured, absurd “kidding” that never takes away from his overall likeability. It’s the ultimate juggle of juxtaposition: the varying intensities of voice and substance.

“Kindness” marks a continual transition present in Camia’s career: escaping the horrid hills of empty employment while contending in the low rewards arena of stand-up comedy. The comic mines his past in anecdotes about grocery stories and high school counseling. He also delves into socially conscious self-awareness by highlighting the rise of neodouchebaggery and office racism. Camia is especially skilled at taking Asian stereotypes, recontextualizing them to make generalizations sensible or twisting them to reveal ugly truths.

The comedian also takes flight into chaotic cognitions, walking along a funny and odd stream of consciousness. The best example of this comedy style is his musings on having a temporary vagina; an in depth analysis (wink, wink) on the inherent pros, cons and Camia’s own reservations. One could imagine Kevin in a Charlie Kaufman film as he cries, “Get off me!” (Buy this album and “Synecdonche, New York” to understand what I mean).

Kevin Camia is self-defined as a San Francisco born, Santa Rosa raised, progressive Filipino-American vegetarian. In “Kindness”, these are all superseded by Camia’s identity as a comedian. He takes a classic comic standpoint: enjoying the comforts of life whilst curmudgeonly mocking the surrounding societal constructs. Camia doesn’t pander, nor omit any group as he takes aim at items he loves (quinoa), hates (intolerance) or is indifferent to (interracial dating). And just as he goes top speed on a straight forward, cleverly cranky point the comedian can make a right turn onto Creepy Blvd. or Strange Ln., which creates a versatile comedy experience.

The official album set concludes with a tender moment where Camia expresses his desire to marry his longtime girlfriend. It’s a charming finale filled with hallmark lampooning, “Unchained Melody”, and a punchline that would make Louis Sachar smile. With these last laughs, “Kindness” subversively lives up to its name.

Thank You for Reading

P.S. Shakira as you’ve never seen her before: Reading Courting Comedy in footie pajamas.

Product Review: DJ REAL’s “Personal Growth”

This review, anxiously awaited by the people of the People’s Republic of China, is wholly inaccurate. The mere fact that it exists is a farce upon good talent and you should stop reading immediately. It is the psychobabblic drone of a large man with a silly head. It pains my metaphoric, metaphysical spine to know that you continue. May you suffer dearly for your insolence!

Welcome to the Courting Comedy review of the album “Personal Growth” by. DJ REAL.

A collection of clever compositions, released in the dreary year of two thousand and eight, Personal Growth serves as the most recent DJ REAL recording to date. All lyrics written, all songs arranged, all songs composed and all instruments played on all twenty tracks are by Mr. Nick Stargu. Nick Stargu is a frequent collaborator of DJ REAL and they share the same face. The album is available for streaming, digital and compact disk consumption HERE

Note: DJ REAL, by design, is not for everyone. If you fail to enjoy the work of DJ REAL there is nothing wrong with you. Personal Growth appeals to fans of whimsy, heartbreak, outcasts, puns; Sifl and Olly, Monty Python and Don Hertzfeldt are of similar comedic ilk. Make no mistakes, DJ REAL is 100% DJ REAL; kitschy for the sake of kitschy, more so humor songs than musical comedy. If you dislike stop-motion clay animation, read no further.

Personal Growth encapsulates DJ REAL’s style concisely: elaborately clever, humorously charming, determinately different and pervasive. It’s extremely difficult to pinpoint what gears and springs are at work in the production: the machinery is too interwoven. To focus entirely on the funny phrases and concepts does disservice to the broad, catchy instrumental themes. To make note of the secret synths overlooks DJ REAL’s ambitious on-stage performances.

DJ REAL crafts rich world with lyrical botany and musical gravity. He boxes them in copper cubes and provides a glance through a single, small porthole. Every song is a self contained, condensed idea with a specific musical genre as its cornerstone; each is vaguely familiar (usually for irony’s sake) but never plagiarized. A number of highlights emerge on Personal Growth: “Moustache”, “Agnus”, “Forsaken”, “Tiny Cheeseburger”, “Gettin’ Out at Two”; a strong balance of catchy, infectious, impressive, expressive, material. Uh oh, here comes the “Evil Paper Bag”.

The following portion of this review has been processed through the Evil Paper Bag. For those unfamiliar with the Evil Paper Bag, it’s a mythological bag that when good thing go in, bad things come out.

 

Original Artwork by: Dale Weiss

Personal Growth provides justice for the bullied, be adversity from tiny men in fingers or shampoo thieves. The angst of being an outcast continues post-educational-systems and Personal Growth is a stress reliever for quirk-inspired anxiety. It’s okay to be misunderstood.

The album also speaks for the unrequited romantics. Unattainable museum-on-Monday hearts that beg for attention spring traps on young DJ REAL. Hi-five-inspiring women infest the mind and create agony and destruction in thy soul. Mr. REAL can be the lighthearted lighthouse that can’t see any loving life on the face of the ocean; love is a friend of the frown, especially on the face of the ocean. At times hope springs from six strings like on “Gettin’ Out at Two.” Then, at times, giving up is the only option for the forsaken. In many ways Personal Growth is  about the duality of desire and seeming malicious dating damnation, all painted in masterful wordplay, ludicrous imagery and euphonic acrylics.

Please listen to the album. There’s a lot contained in DJ REAL’s Personal Growth and of the twenty tracks I’m sure you’ll find the one for you.

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

Product Review: The Abraham Linkin Mixtape

Abraham Linkin is a renegade hip-hop group. Two dope boys in a Cadillac slinging comedy. In the hip-hop realm of mouthpiece and bathing apes, they rapped about being broke and masturbation. In the politically correct wasteland of Bay Area comedy, they made the word “bitch” fashionable again. They wielded social networks like guns and axes. They hit up every worthwhile open microphone and showcase. They made shirts, catchphrases, tell-all videologs, music videos, press materials, and most importantly, great music rife with clever, crisp, absurd, offensive, endearing, relatable comedy. They generated a buzz in the one place you’re not allowed to. From the muck of Bay Area supercoolness, the light of Abraham Linkin rose to the clouds of record deals and sponsorships. And then, with a sharp pang of microphone feedback, it was gone.

I can’t tell you why the two broke up because I don’t know. I can express my sincere despondency about the rise and demise of Abraham Linkin.

Abraham Linkin, composed of Larrell Tyler and Will Hatcher, resonated for a few reasons. Musically they were smart, polished, stylish, and socially conscious without being pretentious or disingenuous. The group had the dope factor. Every successful hip-hop act has the dope factor: some genuine, some fabricated, some long-lasting, some fleeting, some eternal, some flavor-of-the-month. It’s what separates the corny hobbyist stringing words together through a plastic microphone from the rhyme marshal spitting through a condenser microphone in the booth with a movement on their back.

Comically the group took two forms of comedy and created their own voice. Within the constructs of satire (lampooning hip-hop swaggerists) and musical comedy Abraham Linkin were able to take everyday things and drill them into the minds as catchphrases and hooks. Facebook, homeless people, fat black women, and a slew of other topics are definitively illuminated within the group’s repertoire.

Finding Abraham Linkin was finding a new favorite band; the ones you’ll take your friends to go see, the ones you buy their self-release EP from the source, the ones you write blogs about and cover songs of. The ones you know each member on a first name basis, or go road tripping to their first tour gig. The ones whom you demand acceptance of from your significant other or the ones you claim in elitist musical conversations. The ones you’ll dislike as they become popular and say “they peaked with their second album”. The ones you tell whoever will listen that you knew them from the beginning, the ones you reminisce about when you’re forty. Could Abraham Linkin have become that cult-crossover band like Metallica or Modest Mouse? We’ll never know; they left too soon.

Before they left, the group dropped a promotional mixtape. For a mere $5 I received the Abraham Linkin infused compact-disc from an extremely high Larrell at the Brainwash. Thusly, I present a review for “Abraham Linkin: Bitch What Ya Thinkin Vol. 1”

Note: this product is ghetto approved. ID3 Tags are ghostly. Names/information herein are either from deductions or assumptions. I reserve the right to be wrong.

Track One

The jawn opens fittingly with “Swine Flu”, the initial track performed at 800 Larkin that brought Abe Linkin to my attention. Originally the song contained a section of discussion upon the origins of a friend’s swine flu infection. The official version of this “Miss You” hood ballad maintains a high pork diet as the culprit for swine flu. That’s right, Porky Pig is not to be trusted. Master P’s “I Miss My Homies” or Bone Thug’s “Crossroads” are outmatched in sentimentally: “When you died it really hurt/ [be]cause they buried you… in my favorite t-shirt!” Damn you swine flu.

Get Lower Than Your Self Esteem

The C.D. includes other Abraham Linkin originals: “Facebook”, “Homeless and Sexy”, “Spend the Night” and “Go Precious”. These sultry sexified jams are more Teddy than Riley, more Jagged than Edge, more Black than street. The kind of music you massage feet to (perhaps even rub amputee nubs if you’re into that). These songs stand out as charmingly ironic and passively raunchy while speaking on the frustrations of being single.

"I met her on Facebook and I invited her to my place

But when she showed up, man you should have seen my face

When I looked at her face, I could believe it

Cause she looked like my nigga

I said ‘Devin?’

She said ‘Who?’

'Nevermind, come on in'”

“Spend the Night” features hilarious off-meter rhyme schemes as it speaks of the ultimate male safety net with confidence and gusto. “Why you bust in my room, I told you I was sleeping/ and then they would reply/ If you were sleeping, what were you doing with your hand?” It’s a devilish disappointment when others get in the middle of the business of pleasure.

“Homeless and Sexy” is a smorgasbord of street living references pandering to panhandlers without a secretion of sadness. It’s certainly noble to want to fuck bottom feeders. It makes me wonder if Camilla Belle sat in the Tenderloin with smudges of ash on her face and fingerless gloves, would she receive more money due to America’s affair with vanity. And would she cheat on me with crack head Tony? And would the actress-turned-hoba (female bum = hoba) be a “freak in the sheets [while] she sleeps in the street [?]” Great syntactic line.

“Go Precious”, while not the best song based on the movie based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire (that honor belongs to Garfunkle and Oates), the song raises an interesting debate. Is it time to lose the obsession of thin start coveting curvaceous women? As proven by Gabourey Sidibe, Susan Boyle, and those Dove ads: big girls are on the rise. Kaseem Bentley once instructed: “Get with these big girls while the premium is low”. Mr. Bentley can make these claims, as he is one of the premier pussy stockbrokers in the country.

The hallmark calling card for Abraham Linkin is undeniably “Got it @ Ross”. A perfect anthem for the recession, the group spit braggadocios rhymes about jeans, wicker chairs, yoga DVDs, and Christmas CDs. To see a bunch of people hyped and chanting about being bargain shoppers is a ridiculously beautiful scene. Video is better than words.

Zero Balance Flips (The Parodies)

Abe Linkin takes being starving artists seriously. Of the five parody songs on the mixtape, three explicitly deal with the turmoil of being poor. Migraines, water-vodka (wakka wakka), maternity cases, Dutch dating and gas prices are contrastingly augmented by instrumentals from flashy rappers like T.I. and 50 Cent. While other rappers of the poverty position would lyrically aim at future revenue, A.L. stay grounded in the present. The general theme of these zero balance flips is “I’m poor, that’s normal, don’t gas yourself up, and deal with it.” I wonder what happens when Will or Larrell receive the riches they’re due? Will the content of their musical production differ? Future blog I guess.

Dogs, Dookie, and Pubics

The mixtape is rounded out by crank calls and Indian accents. While not the greatest highlights of the group’s abilities, the sketches do provide moderation and range. In fact, at the risk of contradiction, the first prank may provide the C.D.’s collection’s largest reactions and loudest laughs. Larrell gets his Jerky Boys on in a phone call to an undisclosed fried chicken restaurant chain claiming pubic hair in his mashed potatoes. The skit spirals out of control like “Alice in Dixieland” with Larrell playing “The Mad Hooder”. In one burst of anguish Larrell screams, “A nigger killed my mother!” with such gusto that one could imagine the origin of a racist superhero (The Inkredible Klansman perhaps). Depending on who you are that’s either hilarious or horrifying, my paradigm rests on the former.

The mixtape has fluctuating quality. Some songs resolutions and bit rates are lower than others. Likewise certain topics seem oversaturated. For instance, the songs “Go Precious” and “Addicted to Food” are both odes to overweight girls. Arguably “Addicted to Food” is a reprise of “Go Precious”, containing the same lyrical content towards the end of the song. This isn’t necessarily a problem besides the fact they’re only a song away from each other on the set list. And some songs, like “Becky”, lack the same Abraham Linkin flair for winking and nudging expressed in instant classics like “Ross” and “Baby By Me”. The song is fun and laughs are continually had but fails in the pursuit of the group’s mission statement: to emancipate minds.

Criticisms aside, the mixtape is still amazing. The talent featured is immense and glaring. I deeply cherish supporting artists like Will Hatcher and Larrell Tyler, and I’m still mad that my friend lost my CD to his ex-girlfriend.

Abraham Linkin. Bitch What Ya Thinkin. Emancipating Minds from Mainstream Bullshit. 2009-2010.

Thank You For Reading

-O.J.