On his debut album, On The Edge (Uproar Entertainment), comedian John Moses warns listeners (and potential baby mamas), “I come from a long line of alcoholics and people with mental illnesses. I’ve got an uncle on each side that committed suicide, one of them was a murderer; you can Google that.” With a colorful, dysfunctional family made up of a Jamaican step-mother, a Filipino brother-in-law, and “a ton of fags,” it only follows that his material largely consists of edgy topics and humorous tales from his life. Since he comes from such a diverse household, giving him a personal perspective on race, he doesn’t rely on hackneyed stereotypes. No. Moses found out which stereotypes were “true” firsthand.
The 32-year-old comedian began challenging audiences over 10 years ago in Toronto, making him seem whiter than his already-pale skin tone would suggest. And so race is a common topic throughout this set, as Moses introduces black and brown people; Mexicans and Puerto Ricans into the folds of his jokes.
Moses also knows what it’s like to be broke, telling us about the time he once spent Christmas in a homeless shelter as a kid. His current girlfriend, he explains, thankfully pays for everything. But when she lost her job after President Obama extended unemployment for 54 weeks, she worried he would break up with her, to which he reassured, “Baby, you don’t have to worry about that for another 54 weeks.” Jokes like these are sprinkled between longer, ranty (and funny) frustration-born material. This toggling style of delivery varies the pace of the album, keeping his audience alive and waiting for more.
At moments throughout Edge, Moses tends to step on what could be laugh breaks, but, more times than not, we find that he’s building towards a larger point. For example, in a bit about bullies, an extended set-up finds Moses plowing through funny lines only to get to the even more hilarious realization of what happens to this country when you remove bullies from sports and the effect that mean kids have on the development of civilization (listen below). In moments like these, Moses proves how very focused he is on broadcasting his thought process — uninterrupted — and ending with powerful punch lines.
Moses, now living in New York City, calls himself “an equal-opportunity offender.” Any listener offended by his album (and there will be many) may be too sensitive for honest comedy and most likely isn’t listening to the contexts he sets up– the same type of people who probably whisper “African American” in public while screaming “black people” in private (or not). It’ll be up to Moses to decide if he wants to challenge his audiences even more in the future (yes, do it); he’s already pushed the boundaries further than most comics. And he’s got that rare background that gives him the credibility to do so. But for now, On The Edge, is an excellent debut release and is one true comedy fans should feel good about getting behind.
You can download On The Edge on iTunes. Go ahead and do it.