On his debut album, Wizard Hello, comedian Alex Koll immediately pulls the audience into his mystical world, presenting himself as a wizard (of course) and describing the ins-and-outs of “wizard comedy,” which apparently involves telling jokes to magical crystals.
From there, Koll takes us on a tour of the most surreal nooks of his imagination, spinning yarns about what Prince’s ostensibly dream-driven “1999” should have described had he actually been dreaming as he wrote it (a fight with giant lobsters and chocolate shark hands, for starters), or what Sasquatch “heavy on the sass” might sound like (“Yeti or not, here I coooome!”).
There is a risk, though, in basing so much of a comedy act on constructed surreality rather than recognizable experience. He occasionally strays so far from the the traditional and albeit, tired path that it gets increasingly more difficult to laugh at what was — earlier in the album — a novel approach.
Wizard Hello‘s arrangement mostly works well. Some short, odd songs punctuate the latter half of the album, like “Dad, Dad, Dad,” a too-catchy accompaniment to his impression of a father with amnesia (“Dad, dad dad dad, I am somebody’s dad”; repeat ad nauseum). And, following his live performance, the CD offers more polished recordings of those songs.
Occasionally, though – and this is the case with many stand-up comedy albums – the lack of the visual is a detraction. An unfamiliar listener would enjoy less of Koll’s commentary on his Old Testament appearance, and at some points, the audience bursts out laughing in seemingly random places.
But Koll is aware of that shortcoming. And he milks wonderfully. In fact on the physical CD (which has super cool artwork by Matt Furie), Koll includes a diagram that better explains the punch line of one his more physical bits. And there’s the final track titled “Bonus?” It includes an impression of a hostage who’s into Miami Sound Machine: silence, laughter, and muffled humming. The comedy here isn’t in the material itself, but in Koll’s comment that “it’s not going to work on the CD” – he simply wanted a track that was nothing but “laughter and struggling.”
Koll’s first recorded effort, overall, is fortunately much more than laughter and struggling.
To snag yourself a copy of Wizard Hello, just click the image below. Do it.