While listening to LYAO, the new album from Arj Barker, it was hard for me to keep track of how often I found myself doubled over in laughter, hands on my head, shouting, “It’s so stupid!” Yet, to me, this is one of the best signs of great comedy: jokes that are so ludicrous that there is a part of the brain that is in complete disbelief that it’s actually hearing what is being said.
The album, released by Warner Bros. Records, is steeped in this kind of silliness –a level of absurdity that can only be achieved by a performer with such confidence and commitment as Barker. Granted, while no big issues or truths are really tackled, the comedian and former supporting player on Flight of the Conchords instead provides a dose of deceptively well-crafted ridiculousness that exists for its own sake.
This is not to say the material is easy or superficial. Somewhere around the point that Barker begins accusing his water of war crimes, tearfully reminiscing the father of his current shampoo, and reluctantly stopping a joke because he is not smart enough to finish it, it becomes clear there is a sense of brilliance to such idiocy. He has the ability to lure the audience unexpectedly into his reality, to take them from an area of relative sanity and relatable experience into absurdity and surrealism.
Often, what I appreciated the most was his commentary on the jokes themselves. He’s not just creating this ridiculous, selfish, adolescent character, he also lets you look behind the curtain to see the person laughing at and acknowledging the stupidity of what was just created. His comedy is intelligen–t not in a way that’s heavy-handed or pretentious, but rather in its absolute willingness to be completely idiotic.
Check out a track from the album below.
And buy yourself a copy of LYAO by clicking the album cover below.