Adam Newman’s debut album Not for Horses (Rooftop Comedy Productions) is a diverse collection of observations from the mind of an intelligent, young comedian. Need proof? Newman spans everything from embarrassing public exploits while dog-sitting, the obvious lack of ghostwriting in Snoop Dogg’s autobiography and the odd decision-making of basketball player Dikembe Mutombo.
The album’s strongest overriding characteristic is that, for the most part, there are no lulls. Newman takes a few minutes to establish proper pacing, but once he does, he is on for the rest of the album.
Newman doesn’t dwell on any topic for too long; it’s an excellent strategy to employ for debut album, as it gives the listener unfettered access to a cunning mind at work and establishes the breadth of the comic’s ability. On a more practical level, it means no lulls. If a joke bombs, Newman can simply move on to the next bit.
One of the best moments of the album comes toward the end when Newman haggles the price of a vaporizer down by 50 percent. He’s so thrilled over his victory that he phones his father, for whom haggling is a passion. When his father asks what he haggled down, however, Newman—completely high—realizes he cannot tell him it was marijuana paraphernalia, so he simply says, “Just kidding!” and hangs up.
Though his joke premises and deliveries are generally strong throughout the album, Newman at times lets the brainy side of him take over to ill-effect. He’s a bit verbose at times where verbal economy would drive the joke better. As George Carlin noted, stand-up comedy is rhetoric: there should be a rhythm, a cadence and a pulse. Newman doesn’t lack these oratorical qualities altogether but he does forget about them from time to time. That said, Not for Horses is strong debut, and certainly not one to miss.