The drive to Death Valley is about 12 or 34 hours depending on how much you lost at the Wild Wild West Casino on the way and how determined you were to get it all back. That’s usually enough time to get through a thick stack of the CDs that are handed to me on the road. 99 percent of them are music which I try to avoid when I can.
The reason I say that I simply don’t like music is because I don’t know anything about music. I don’t know good from bad from hack from talented from anything. I have no taste or ear for music. No, I can’t hear that lute in the background. I can’t even tap my foot in time.
I like what I like and have enough on my iPod to get me through an extended psychadelic journey - which is about the only time I listen to it.
I know that I have only the weakest pedestrian understanding of the artform. I do know comedy and I’m terrified of being the music-equivalent of the guy who publicly announces that he really loves Sinbad or Jeff Dunham because he doesn’t know any better.
Which shouldn’t really matter. You should be able to enjoy whatever the heck it is that grabs your goose without worrying about what other people think. Fine in theory but in reality, I’m the guy that judges you and is seriously disgusted by you for liking Sinbad. That’s because I’m a shitty person. I have to find ways to hate you more than I hate myself and I know there are others just like me who’d crucify me in their heads if they knew I enjoy “Uninvited” by Alana Morrisette
“Long Tall Glasses” by Leo Sayers is a great song and even a music snob might let you get away with it for it’s obscurity. But, if you knew that I had not one but three BareNakedLadies songs shuffling around in there like some Russian Roulette party fauz pas waiting to happen…
So now I have stacks of CDs that have been given to me on the road that we put in, listen randomly to tracks with a latter-day attention span and then - if they don’t catch on quickly, we heave them out the window. It’s good fun and blatent littering is so anachronistic that it makes me burst out into kid-in-church uncontrollable laughter. It also gives me a reason to use “anachronistic” in a sentence like I’m full of words that big.
Most CDs get the heave but there’s been some keepers as well - namely Mishka Shubaly who I’ve had the pleasure of touring with me lately. The Purrs were a find and Marvin’s Garden survived to live in the high cotton of my glove box for all eternity.
Comedy CDs will often get thrown out the window even if they aren’t bad and even though I actually paid money for the comedy CD - just because I can usually only listen to comedy CDs once. There’s a few exceptions that you can replay and still enjoy- Sean Rouse is one and there’s a few others that aren’t coming to mind.
Here’s some recommendations from this last trip:
Todd is one of the few that can be just as funny recorded as live. Both of his CDs are fantastic. I wanna know about the chick on the cover. Todd and I are friends but I bet the real at-home and alone Todd Barry is a really creepy dude that you’d want to watch in disgust on a webcam. I bet that girl on the cover is crying somewhere over what she saw and can’t get out of her eyes. I like that Todd quite a bit.
Track I Loved Most: Unbelievable Questions (In fact, I had Todd send me the track to put on my Myspace but I still haven’t figured out how to put that shit up.)
Maria Bamford: The Burning Bridges Tour
Maria probably made us laugh the loudest on the trip. On paper, she should be everyone I hate. To describe her, one would think Tracy Ullman which would be entirely insulting. If you said - “Here - listen to a chick comic that does a lot of characters and voices,” I would be throwing it out the window while you were still saying the “aracters” part.
Track That I Loved Most: Venette (You know it’s funny when you’re replaying it for people in the car when it’s 114 degrees out and they stay in the car until the track is done.
Mike Birbiglia: Secret Public Journal
I did a show in Montreal with Mike that was comics telling true stories and he had a fantastic one about being a sleepwalker and walking out a second story window as he was dreaming that a missle was headed towards him and the only way to save the troops in his room was to jump.
I was hoping that story was on this CD because I was obviously drunk when we did the show together and couldn’t remember all the nuances.
It isn’t but the other stories are really fucking good. I hate to say I was surprised because that sounds like I thought he’d suck but I was genuinely entertained without habitually deconstructing it as I am prone to do with lesser comics.
Track I Loved Most: Celebrity Golf (It might not be as funny if you havent been that guy but I have and I died laughing.)
Bill Burr: Emotionally Unavailable
I said before that Louis CK is probably the most underrated comedian in America but I think Billy Burr is even moreso. I’ve seen him live a couple times just shrieking laughing while kicking myself for not thinking of that myself over and over.
Like Birbigs and the sleepwalking story, I went into the Bill Burr CD hoping to hear the bits I heard live and drunk and only vaguely remember the premise but knew fucking destroyed me and they weren’t there. What was there was still on par. I love that it opens with Burr asking the crowd how they’re doing and gets fucking crickets. Zilch. Zero fluff, no warm-up guy coaching the people how to cheer, no plastic responses. Just announce me and hit record. It’s the red button. Fantastic. I can’t wait to hear another.
So there. That’s some shit I listened to and liked and hope you listen to it and like it as well.
PostScript: After writing this, I watched Last Comic Standing. It would be far easier and probably more entertaining to write a blog about how awful that show is - and there are so many awful things about it that you could write a new blog every week on a different aspect of the shittiness of it. That’s why it’s important to every now and again write about someone who not enough people know is great rather than something or someone that everyone knows is shit.
The Other Thing: Last Comic Standing is partially my fault. I did the presentation pilot for it. (For those not in the industry, a presentation pilot is a short version of a show that is being shopped to the network that will determine whether or not the network buys it as a series.) I spent three days in a house with four other comics to make a 20 minute presentation pilot. I have a tape of it somewhere. Bust my balls a lot and I’ll find it and send it to someone who knows how to get shit online.