Monday, August 19, 2013

Oh My God - A Review

Louis C.K.
Oh My God
Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, AZ

    Louis C.K. is arguably the hottest comedian in the world right now. In the past five years he has produced four comedy specials all the while creating one of the funniest television shows in recent memory in "Louie" and this is in addition to his burgeoning film career. He's reached a point in his career where any project that adds his name makes headlines and for a lot of comedians that would be enough. For a lot of comedians that would be the end of their stand-up careers. In fact in the 80's and 90's that was the formula; struggle on the road, get on Carson, get a sitcom and never look back but not Louis. He's different.

    With "Oh My God" Louis starts to take his place amongst one of the greatest of all time. He talks about a neighbor and her dog , the stupidity of posting videos on Facebook and confronting a total stranger all in the first 30min of the show. All of which are funny and will make you laugh out loud, but just around the 30min mark, Louis takes another step forward. It is here that he starts to talk about the process of dating and how our existence as a species relies on this seemingly out of date ritual and the joys of being lucky enough to be a human being and he goes on to talk about our anger while driving and a bit so special I'm not even going to describe it. It's pure brilliance though.

    I cannot help but feel Mr. C.K. knew exactly what was happening during this special and what it would mean to his legacy because from my perspective there are all kinds of subtle mentions to his idol(and mine) George Carlin. Firstly, the round theatre stage is reminiscent of Geogre's most popular special, "Class Clown". Secondly, while Louis is known for wearing a solid black shirt and jeans during his performances for some reason he chose to wear a top that was almost a blue and during "Class Clown" George was wearing not a dissimilar shirt. Finally on more than one occasion Louis uses his facial expressions to really drive home a punchline, a tactic that Carlin used liberally.

    Am I reading too much into it? Possibly, but I don't think so. Louis has proven that he is a very smart man with a strong understanding and appreciation of those who came before him and it would not surprise me to learn this was all done as a "tip of the cap" to George. Regardless, "Oh My God" only solidifies Mr. C.K. further into the "living legend" status he's been earning and inches the bar that much higher for the rest of the comedy world to jump over.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Dad is Fat - A Review

Dad is Fat
Author: Jim Gaffigan
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Release Date: May 2013

    Two months ago today I lost a man that was near and dear to my heart. My father-in-law. At the time of his sudden passing I was halfway through another book that I was very much enjoying but on that day everything changed, and I put that book down. Shortly after all of the ceremonies and family had dispersed some turned toward Religion for comfort, I turned to those who make me smile, comedians.

    Jim Gaffigan has been near the very top of the current comedian pile for a long time now(and one of my personal favorites for close to a decade) and I trusted that "Dad is Fat" would give me exactly what I was looking for during my time of need. Thankfully, Mr. Gaffigan delivered.

    "Dad is Fat" boils down to a series of very short essays(typically no more than 5 pages) on Mr.Gaffigan's take on raising his five children in a crowded New York City apartment. He tackles subjects ranging from what it's like attempting to get five kids ready to go to the park, to the importance of candy to a child to toddler-hood (my personal favorite chapter and well worth the price of the book alone). With each chapter and essay the book builds momentum and the laughs seem to occur at a much more rapid pace. Whether this was done intentionally or whether it was simply a writer/comedian getting more comfortable working in a different medium I cannot say for sure, however I can say with certainty that this book will make you laugh out loud on a regular basis.

    One of things that impressed me most about "Dad is Fat" is that it is not just a rehashing of Mr. Gaffigan's stand-up material. It would have been easy for him to simply use his stage material as a transcript for this book. While fans of his will surely recognize some of the premises and jokes they are few and far between. Ultimately what you get is a book that delivers consistently from beginning to end.The style, tone and pacing are reminiscent of a Bill Cosby book, and there is not a greater compliment that I can give to a comedian in this genre.

    As someone who lost a father figure, who has a father who is very active in his life and as someone who hopes to be a father in the not too distant future this book hit home when I needed it most. It allowed me to reminisce and reflect in an incredibly safe environment and for that I am forever grateful. Thank you Mr. Gaffigan.