Review: Tom Papa’s ‘Live in New York City’ is a satisfying slab of honest comedy

By | January 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm | 4 comments | feature slider, Reviews, TV/Movies | Tags: , ,

It’s been six years since the comedy world has had access to a new, proper Tom Papa album. And even then, although it was excellent, his album Calm, Cool & Collected was only 35 minutes! Boo! Also, hiss.

Luckily, it’s not like Papa has been gone from our sights; far from it. He was featured in his second half-hour Comedy Central special in 2007, he’s been headlining nationwide and he broke out into the mainstream the last few years as the host of NBC’s celebrity panel show The Marriage Ref, produced by Jerry Seinfeld. He’s even landed his own interview show on SiriusXM called Come to Papa. Oh, and did you see him in that Matt Damon flick, The Informant! in 2009? Hilarious.

It’s just that I’m a huge fan of the concept of the comedy album, like Papa’s newest Live in New York City, (even if it is only available for download, starting Jan. 10). And DVDs are OK, I guess, and Comedy Central specials (Papa’s televised version of the album premieres Sunday, Jan. 8 on the network at 10 pm ET; see clips here!) are slightly less fine – since an hour performance is chopped up to 40-something minutes and interrupted by commercials and edited for language, though, that’s less of a problem for the mostly-clean Papa. But a comedy album, you can really embrace. You can take it with you in your car and drop that sucker on your iPod, which can go anywhere. You can cue a track up all quick-like to let your friends listen. You can really get to know an album.

Jokes.com
Tom Papa – MyFace
comedians.comedycentral.com
Tom Papa Comedians Stand-Up

Throughout the last week, I’ve been getting to know Live in New York City. To be honest, it didn’t take long for me to “know” it— especially the large chunk of Papa’s pristinely-written material about marriage, raising kids and getting older. I know, I know. We’ve heard it all before. But in comedy, we’ve pretty much heard EVERYTHING before. And let’s face it: there’s an incredibly small percentage of young, downtown comics who are completely original AND funny. The art of excellent stand-up largely comes down to how the comedian handles well-worn concepts. And on Live in New York City, Papa handles all the aforementioned topics (and more) with class and with a level of honesty that would make most “happily married” (read: non-self-aware) parents cringe.

We learn from the album that Papa’s been married for more than a decade and has two young daughters– and two female cats, one of which is diabetic. As a young-ish husband of six years and a parent of two boys, myself – 3-years-old and nearly five months – sometimes I need to hear that it’s ok to feel hatred toward your kids (“They’re the worst roommates on the planet; they’re horrible people to live with… they’re animals,” Papa says about his) and that it’s ok that I just started drinking, literally, weeks ago to help wind down from dealing with my own kids (but, really, mostly because of the 3-year-old). “And not like that fun Happy Hour drinking, either,” Papa explains on the new album. “Ever since I had kids, it’s more like sad, standing alone at the kitchen sink kind of drinking.”

I also know it’s a normal challenge to still find your wife awesomely attractive even after she transforms into the “Wash Your Hands Lady” and watching her run around all day wiping snot off your offspring’s faces. It’s all ok. I’m going to be ok. I guess what I’m saying is sometimes I need a hug. And I know you do, too— even if you don’t admit to it. And this album hugged me nice and good.

Jokes.com
Tom Papa – Fitting In
comedians.comedycentral.com
Tom Papa Comedians Stand-Up

But let me clear; from a critical standpoint, Live in New York City is one of the strongest, funniest, deftly-delivered hours of comedy I’ve heard in a long time. And you need not be a parent or married or an asshole like me for the material to resonate with you. If you’re human (or mostly human) you’ll find plenty of laughs.

Pre-order Live in New York City now!

About the Author

Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor in chief of Laughspin. He launched Punchline Magazine in 2005 (which became Laughspin in the summer of 2011) with childhood friend Bill Bergmann. Dylan lives in northern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. He hopes the Shire is real.

  • http://www.twitter.com/davebaxter1989 Davebaxter1989

    I know this article was posted up like a month ago, but I’ve been working through a large backlog of articles in my iPads reading list and feel compelled to query your love of albums over DVDs which I cannot understand. This is largely due to my being from the UK which has a less storied history of the comedy album so I cannot succumb to nostalgia, such as but that’s how I’ve always consumed comedy. I get the argument if a special is cut for broadcast, as you would naturally choose the more complete, but if they are the same, such as an uncut DVD, the video is surely much better given how comedy is so visual. I have listened to, and do so still, to albums if they are unavailable in video format and inevitably I get to hear a joke in which the comedian is clearly pointing to something or gesturing in a way that is completely imperceptible to us at home. I would love to know why audio only could ever be better.

    • Dylan

      hey! first, i appreciate your well-thought comments and questions. second, i think i explain it pretty well in the review: “But a comedy album, you can really embrace. You can take it with you in
      your car and drop that sucker on your iPod, which can go anywhere. You
      can cue a track up all quick-like to let your friends listen. You can
      really get to know an album.”

      in short, if i’m tied down to sitting on my couch and watching a television, there’s no way i’m going to really get to know a comedy performance. with a CD or digital tracks on my iPod, i can listen anywhere and the comedy could really become a big part of my life. and i can store hundreds of albums on my iPod; you can’t do that with digital movies, because they take up too much space. and even if you could, it’s not like you can watch them while you’re driving.

      i totally get that sometimes stand-up is incredibly visual. and there are times on albums that i, of course, won’t be able to see the mannerisms, facial expressions and act-outs. but i’m willing to sacrifice all of that in order to get the intimacy and accessibility of an album. Also, for comedians i’m already familiar with (like Tom Papa), i know what his stage presence is like, and it’s not crucial i see him actually telling jokes.

      finally, i find i have a much greater appreciation of a stand-up act when i’m concentrating on the words. with an album, i get a better sense of the comedian’s style of writing, his pacing, his cadence, etc… this is just all my opinion.

      thanks so much for reading and having opinions and sharing them here. seriously, i really appreciate it. hope to hear more from you.

      -dylan

      • http://www.twitter.com/davebaxter1989 Davebaxter1989

        I see what your saying, and I suppose I see a first airing of the material as sacrosanct, so video it is, unless of course I can see it live while it’s touring. I have been known after this to revisit with albums as I already know the material so can take it in in a different form. This is due to not wanting to be doing something else when I first hear it (also as most iPod time is WTF time) but rather sitting focusing on what’s happening. Also I completely agree that the words are king, but my favourite part, especially as someone starting out performing, is how they take what was the written word and perform it visually and add little quirks that can keep people interested between the laughs, or how a movement of the hand can take a medium level joke to an applause line. This is more analytical however and helpful to me personally. So my opinion is that stand-up as an art form deserves to be focused on rather than a casual past time (like that fickle whore music) at least the first time anyway. To each his own however and I fully accept that everyone can consume media in any way they want even if I think watching a movie on a phone is the stupidest thing one could do.

  • http://www.twitter.com/davebaxter1989 Davebaxter1989

    I know this article was posted up like a month ago, but I’ve been working through a large backlog of articles in my iPads reading list and feel compelled to query your love of albums over DVDs which I cannot understand. This is largely due to my being from the UK which has a less storied history of the comedy album so I cannot succumb to nostalgia, such as but that’s how I’ve always consumed comedy. I get the argument if a special is cut for broadcast, as you would naturally choose the more complete, but if they are the same, such as an uncut DVD, the video is surely much better given how comedy is so visual. I have listened to, and do so still, to albums if they are unavailable in video format and inevitably I get to hear a joke in which the comedian is clearly pointing to something or gesturing in a way that is completely imperceptible to us at home. I would love to know why audio only could ever be better.