With a smooth delivery emphasized by a voice that’s one part game-show announcer and one part movie-phone guy, James P. Connolly’s comedy is captivating.
On The Master Plan, the stand-up veteran of Comedy Central, HBO, VH1 and every major comedy festival in North America, loads his 48-minute set with unique commentary and observation. As his intonation and material indicates, Connolly’s self-confidence is unwavering, which helps keep control of the crowd and leaves it hanging on his every word.
At times, Connolly’s punch lines are predictable, but he uses that to his advantage. He’ll tell a seemingly conventional joke that suddenly catches you off guard, like on “Humble Origins,” a shtick that attacks cliches. As he’s spouting off one-liners that everyone and their mother knows, he begins to alter them in his own way, joking that “a friend in need is a blood-sucking leech” and “a penny saved…is a really crappy savings plan.”
Connolly succeeds most when he’s unapologetic about the arrogant persona he’s created. It affords him the opportunity to take chances like he does on “Thinking Man,” when he says, “I think I’ve found a way to end racism and prejudice. The first thing we need to do is get rid of all the different people.”
Plan is laced with intelligent humor, edgy opinions and even a good bit of crowd work. At the beginning of the performance, Connolly tells a woman in the audience that he has three words that will change her life: “Lower your standards.” Luckily, when it comes to this album, the listener doesn’t have to.