“I’m a San Francisco native. I come from a left-wing, Jewish intellectual family,” Nato Green sums up himself, and, unintentionally, his stand-up act on his debut album The Nato Green Party, released through Rooftop Comedy Productions. The union-organizer-turned-stand-up-comedian recorded this album at The New Parish in Oakland, CA, just across the Bay from Green’s home in San Francisco. The team “moved mountains,” according to a message on his Web site, to drop this album so quickly.
The rapid turnaround likely has a couple of motivating factors, the first that the album release coincided with Green’s June appearance at Netroots Nation 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island. Here, he and partners Janine Brito and W. Kamau Bell presented clips from the tour documentary made last fall with their guerilla stand-up comedy group Laughter Against the Machine.
The second is that the politically-charged comic leans heavily on time-sensitive material. Were Rooftop to spend a few months producing the album, the material covering Occupy or Obama may have turned cold.
A generally politically-active and socially-conscious member of society, Green has a plethora of experiences and observations to draw on, weaving stories that will intrigue any liberal audience. His writing is clever, too, but his delivery is dry, and his references often unrelatable for anyone outside of the comfortably diverse confines of the City by the Bay. While his cerebral wit continues to delight audiences of liberals and neo-yuppies, general comedy goers might be disappointed by a lukewarm delivery.
Green Party covers anti-semitism, the Holocaust, Occupy Wall Street, electoral politics, parenthood and more but I was surprised to find that the bit I enjoyed the most was on Gay Rights and homophobia. Though very brief, this joke is more meticulously-written and systematically-delivered than most of the material, the best line being about San Francisco’s Gay Pride parade: “At one point it was called the Gay Freedom parade, and America was like, ‘I’m sorry, Gays, you can’t have freedom; will you settle for pride?’
I commend Green for producing comedy that clearly draws honestly from his own life experience; he clearly doesn’t purposely pander to the liberal sect simply to fit into a niche, Instead, he draws on a life enveloped in liberal intellectual ideals, and has consequently developed an act that attracts a very specific audience. Activists still coming down from the 18-month Wisconsin Union-and-Occupy bender will enjoy the mix of hilarity and anger that Green Party stirs in them for years after the current events become history. A selection of the country’s university professors will enjoy a light chuckle, and their post-graduate students will probably pick it up out of a feeling of obligation for understanding intellectual comedy, but turn it off after the first few tracks fail to entertain them as much as Jon Stewart has trained them to expect.
Political leanings aside, any curious comedy fan can get a digital download or CD copy of The Nato Green Party through RooftopComedy.