Grazing. Serene. Cathartic. Anecdotes unspooled like essays with cranky and angsty and honest confessions and observations on love, race, masculinity and loneliness. Slick and malleable and nonplussed and synthetic and effective: nylon. Package art, with retro typography and weathered flourishes on a faux vinyl sleeve, alludes to the performer’s throwback sensibilities. Terrific control over timbre, shifting from casual and unassuming to bombastic, hip or flippant. Kevin Camia may end up gaining notoriety as the next heavily appropriated cadence in American Comedy—a buttery flow that’s amazing to try out and impossible to replicate—but, for now, he exists as one of its better, involving and evolving performers and writers.
“…it comes from a very real place.”
Comedy albums can often be a landmark in a comic’s career. An introduction or a reset button or the consummation of a bit, a piece, a narrative, an oeuvre, an era. Some of Camia’s standout stand-up, incubating and delighting San Francisco audiences for years, is etched in Color. “Hazel Eyes of Faith” has one of the all-times—and hella SF Bay Area—renderings of the Son of God. “Bullied By A Foster Kid” contains some of the most striking illustrations of adolescence, its consequences, and may have the definitive—and most concise—word on the compass and prepubescent kissing. “Wild Horses” is the perfect companion to “Wild Horses”, the proper “Wild Horses”, according to Camia.
photo by Mandee Johnson.
Color is noteworthy as a sophomoric companion to 2009’s Kindness. The distance is vast. While both bolster an easy weirdness and brilliant penmanship, Color, while recorded at the premiere Punch Line San Francisco, sheds its predecessor’s clubby naturalism—omitting the host’s introduction, less crowd work—as its material centers on introspection rather than contemporary worldliness. Still, there’s also a continuity between the two albums: the mocked douche bags in embroidered dress shirts have become mocked douche bag European dudes in obscure jerseys; the 13-year-committed-to-the-idea-of-marriage relationship now a 19-year-and-ended heartbreak.
“This is gonna be a sad set.”
With said heartbreak, there’s a balance between idyllic romance and forlorn acceptance. There’s no projected bitterness, no retaliation. No cause and effect, no recasting, no revision, no blame, no heroics, no martyrdom. Camia comes across as the self-proclaimed tender heart, out of his element, navigating personal complexes and structural folly inherent in being single. It’s great. Because he’s still a comic, still acerbic, a smartass. Same goes for his diary as a wimpy kid or sympathizing with white excellence or repping his religion. Color is scribed with refreshing evenness, endearing sentiment and a hilarious saltiness.
Color, released March 11, 2016, is available on Rooftop Comedy’s Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon. © Rooftop Comedy. Recorded at Punch Line San Francisco on January 6th and 7th, 2016.