Most comedians today rely on social stereotypes, sardonic rants, and irreverent humor to garner laughs from various audiences as they trek from one stand-up comedy club to another.
Comedian/actor Michael Ian Black (The State, Stella, Viva Variety) carefully keeps this mold intact in his first comedy album, I Am a Wonderful Man. Recorded at Chicago’s Lakeshore Theater, Black waxes ecstatic on topics such as stupid children, God’s hatred of New Orleans, Jesus vs. The Cracker Barrel, high school, terrorists, and Eric Estrada.
Black begins on a mediocre note with a bit about the paradoxical nature of the phrase, “White Power” when compared to “Black Power.” The laughs come when Black sarcastically claims that blacks and Mexicans truly have all the power. Pretending to be Eric Estrada, Black screams out “F*ck you, Cracker!” Given that Americans seem to like their profanity, the laughs were most likely attributed to the screaming of the expletive rather than the humor of the topic itself. Black peaks early with his exploration of the term, “Nazi Party” when he serenades the crowd with his fascist version of The B-52’s “Rock Lobster.”
The remainder of the album primarily consists of Black on his soapbox, with his rants drawing reactions from the crowd based more on his intense, self-righteous proclamations than humor. “Christians are the worst. They always want to convert you. They always make it their business to save your soul. Why? ‘Because we love you!’” Black wraps up the bit by yelling, “F*ck you, you don’t love me. Love is accepting somebody for who they are. If you loved me, you’d accept me for who I am … someone who hates you!”
The album’s full effect suffers because of Black’s physical humor. There are several times throughout the album when Black stops to explain to potential listeners what facial expressions and gestures he’s making. If you have to explain something, it’s not that funny. There are obvious laugh-out-loud moments in the album, but Black’s sometimes dimwitted, sometimes shocking humor is fleeting at best. The album is good for one listen, but you most likely won’t be talking about it around the water cooler at work the next day.
To see Black at his best, dig around on the Internet for copies of Mtv’s The State.Powered by Sidelines