4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A "Yes!" With A "But...",
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This review is from: Smug Life [Explicit] (MP3 Music)First, the good: This album is nearly two hours long, and the current price (four smackeroos) is so low that it's obscene. Doug Benson, if you haven't heard of him, is a solid performer who has a ton of comedy hours under his belt, not to mention podcasts, movies, and shows. This album is also the result of a creative experiment. A die-hard stoner, Doug wanted to see how being high affected his sets, so he performed this album twice in a row. For the first crowd, he was sober (uncooked), and for the second, he was as high as he could get himself (cooked). Although each set is essentially the same jokes, it is fun to see how they change -- in big and small ways -- both by Doug's mental state and the crowd participation that he engages in. If you're even kind of considering this album, or if you're just browsing for some new comedy, there is really no reason at all for you to skip this one. Even if you hate it, hey, there goes four bucks. You can't buy a cup of coffee for that much in some places, let alone two hours of inventive comedy.
Now, the bad: I admire Doug for a lot of things, but mostly for his work ethic. The guy might be a stoner, but he's far more prolific than your average comedian. He puts out a new album every year like clockwork, he hosts a podcast about movies on a (more or less) weekly basis. He's already created and produced two movies (and is working on a third). And he's had a few shows appear here and there (most notably The Benson Interruption, which is sort of the MST3K of stand-up comedy). He's the best argument against weed turning you into a do-nothing slacker.
Unfortunately, this also means he's getting a little overextended. Some comedians only release an album when they've got a full set's worth of A-grade material. But Doug is nothing if not a stickler for routine. His podcast is an excellent example of this. Once it was about forty minutes of chatting with guests about movies and then twenty minutes of playing The Leonard Maltin Game (where guests must figure out a movie title based on a few clues and a wagered number of actors' names from the cast list). However, as things have succeeded on the show, he's added them to the line up. Now the guests play three different games, there's a routine at the end (the sh**heads) and at the start (watch this, not that / tweets about movies). Leaving the guests about ten minutes to talk about movies, which is essentially the point of the podcast.
My point is that, instead of focusing on content so much, Doug more and more seems to be focusing on presentation. His albums are a testament to this. I really liked Professional Humoredian and I thought that Unbalanced Load was even better. In the latter album, Doug started a routine where he would read some of his tweets to the audience, which I thought was only so-so.
When Potty Mouth came out last year, I noticed a few things. For one, a lot more of the humor was about being stoned. This is a crowd pleaser (since they're usually stoned, too), but the jokes get redundant and a little obvious, and it makes the set seem a bit too self-aware for the style of comedy Doug usually does best. For another, Doug didn't just read his own tweets, he also started reading tweets from the audience. Finally, although Doug has always interacted with the audience quite a bit, the set felt almost entirely geared for an in-person performance rather than for listeners at home. The result was an uneven and disjointed set that felt distant and a little phoned-in. I mean, although it must be a treat for Doug to read one of your treats at the start of a show, listening to it for six minutes at the beginning of an album is dull and alienating, especially since the audience's tweets are rarely that funny. Even Doug's own tweets are only hit-and-miss. They rarely have the punch needed to get a good laugh (a la Steven Wright), and since he's reading them from his phone, Doug doesn't really deliver them with very much flair (a la Mitch Hedberg).
This album continues with this trend. The pot jokes are everywhere (I honestly think Doug is funnier when he's NOT talking about weed, but since his audiences are usually stoned, he plays to that more and more), and they tend to blur together. About forty minutes of this whole album is devoted to tweets, which gets really old really fast. And although I bet it was a ton of fun to be there while he was performing, much of the audience interaction is lost to listeners who can't see what's going on (a fact Doug comments on more than once).
Ultimately, I think this album is worth the money, and I enjoyed it, although not as much as I would have liked. I respect Doug as a performer, but I hope in the future he tries harder to focus on his jokes/sets and relies less on format, habit, and tweets.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 20, 2012 7:35:45 AM PDT
T. A. Daniel says:
I completely agree with a lot of what you've said. I've been kind of sad to see Benson talk about weed so much in his standup in previous years -- it always feels a bit lazy. It's the low-hanging fruit. At times, it even feels like pandering. I thought I was the only one who saw through that...
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2012 9:43:25 PM PDT
Mark Eremite says:
Thanks for the comment. It reminds me of Mitch Hedberg. I'm pretty sure the guy was on drugs for most of his sets, but he rarely spoke about it.
Posted on Dec 17, 2012 6:12:18 AM PST
"He's the best argument against weed turning you into a do-nothing slacker."
Agreed. (and Proops)
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