Wyatt Cenac: “Comedy Person” (review)

By | August 29, 2011 at 4:29 pm | 2 comments | feature slider, News, Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Wyatt Cenac’s debut album Comedy Person is smart, perceptive and witty— pretty much every characteristic one would ascribe to a stellar comedy album. Clocking in at over an hour long, the 13-track album covers a wide range of material while averting any lulls. It’s easy to conclude, even after a casual listen, that Cenac is a polished stand-up: his segues are smooth, his pacing is rhythmically solid and his material is unique enough to separate him from his comedy cohorts.

After some brief remarks from Daily Show coworker John Hodgman, Cenac launches into an 11-minute diatribe against people without televisions. He then segues into cat videos on YouTube, why Medieval Times sucks, and how he wasn’t good at “Yo Mama” jokes earlier in life but now is: at his high school reunion, Cenac snaps at his friend, “Yo mama is like Darfur. Everybody feels bad for her but nobody really wants to help her.”

Despite Cenac’s having Hodgman open the set, he does not once mention the Daily Show (by name, anyway). Cenac could have easily milked the topic of his full-time job for half the set. He instead discusses his personal life and his opinions. By taking this path, Cenac lets us know that he’s more than a sidekick good for one or two bits a week on late-night TV. No doubt, this was the concept behind the simple title of the album.

Wyatt Cenac — “St. Patrick’s Day” by Laughspin

One of the shining moments of Cenac’s set comes a little more than halfway through when he describes his ‘run-in’ with two apparent members of the Ku Klux Klan. On his way to the Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Cenac spots two men in white robes and hoods handing out pamphlets. He wants one, but, for obvious reasons, does not think his asking would go over well. Cenac eventually acquires a pamphlet (we won’t say how) and learns that “the Westminster Dog Show is just like the Ku Klux Klan because they’re both into pure breeding.” Cenac then learns that the message is sponsored by PETA, and proceeds to launch into another monologue– this time directed at the latter organization’s stupidity.

Cenac, though, is not an angry man by any means. In fact, he’s incredibly collected. He has his moments of frustration, but instead of yelling or easily playing the angry comic, he uses a mid-volume voice and sharp logic to illustrate his beliefs. Cenac executes well throughout Comedy Person, making the release nothing short of a highly satisfying, consistently funny debut album.

Download Comedy Person on iTunes now.

About the Author

Daniel Berkowitz

Daniel Berkowitz is a Los Angeles-based graduate student focused on nonfiction writing, popular culture and advancing standup comedy's place in the academic realm. He's currently working on a book about how comedy affects democracy. He also really likes baseball.

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