Blue and black are the favorite shades in comedy, a generally off-color art form. The great masters George Carlin and Richard Pryor, the Da Vinci and Rembrandt of their profession, used painted prose and profanity to hilariously illustrate their points or stories.
But swearing was part of their vernacular, not just their acts. Too many comedians nowadays curse onstage thinking it’s a necessity, just another gimmick or technique for getting laughs and getting ahead. Sure, shock value can jolt awake a drowsy audience, but sometimes the !&*$!% comic device distracts from the jokes and detracts from an otherwise entertaining performance. Such is the case on much of Busy Being Awesome, Chad Daniels’ otherwise amusing CD for Stand Up! Records.
Daniels grew up on the serene streets of Fergus Falls, Minn., presumably the kind of smudge on a map where a hood is not someplace people live but something folks wear in winter to protect their ears from the cold. So it’s jarring to hear Daniels sarcastically cuss, especially because he comes across onstage as a rather mannerly Midwesterner and sounds more Main Street than mean streets, and also because he doesn’t need (cue voice-over commercial announcer) the POWER of PROFANITY to sell his jokes.
After all, he has a keen comedy eye and a terrific ear for pacing and delivery. Throughout the set, Daniels takes aim at old and new targets: the overly mobile obese, the punctuation-impaired, who apparently think you indicate possession with an Apostle. And though Congress will never adopt Daniels’ plan for saving Social Security, it’s good for laughs, his real goal anyway. Daniels’ cutting style slices across generational lines: He needles the elderly and does not neglect his family, particularly his children, who Daniels understands are cute and cuddly fun machines…and sometimes as annoying as bills.