I’m always pleased when a comedy album somehow manages to give me tools that allow me to reimagine the world in a fun new way. That sounds like a tall order, natch, but here’s an example: Pete Holmes’s latest album, Nice Try, The Devil, offers an absolutely killer line to use at a party when there’s a lull in the conversation. Give it a listen. Life-changing.
I’d put moments of Todd Glass’s latest album, Todd Glass Talks About Stuff, in the same camp. Glass deftly blends stories from his own experiences and entertaining assessments of largely mundane aspects of everyday life. Y’all, I know “mundane” is a loaded word to use in the context of a comedy album review, but rest assured that Glass’ takes on everyday life are anything but pedestrian.
His material is tightly constructed, it’s relevant, and, well, it’s funny. But, more than that, it resonates in a fascinating way beyond the comedian’s life, as if he tossed a stone into the middle of a pond and created a sea of ripples radiating outward.
Indulge me for a moment as I offer a vague and perhaps difficult-to-follow snapshot of modern life. Stay with me. You know that moment when someone points something weird out to you about some object and then you can never look at that thing without thinking of that weirdness? Glass drops everyday truth bombs about stuff that we cannot unsee.
Take warning signs, for example: if you see a sign that prohibits you from doing something, says Glass — no diving in the Jacuzzi — it means that somebody, sometime tried to do that thing. And, upon that revelation, we are opened unto a world of pure imagination and comedic potentiality. Who was that shrewd knave who dove into the Jacuzzi? Was the decision a drunken moment of recklessness or a heroic effort to save some sorry soul from drowning in three feet of water?
Other highpoints tiptoe gently into social critique, but you won’t find any challenges to the state or policy here. Glass is more concerned with our daily experience. Take his takedown of people who so annoyingly trumpet the fact that they don’t watch TV (a ridiculous proposition, in my mind, because that means avoiding Breaking Bad and Louie). Those statements aren’t just about avoiding TV, Glass rightly notes. They’re statements about cultural hierarchy, about class, about status. Glass has no patience for that hoity-toity rejection of television: and how could he, given his confessed interest in Extreme Makeover. But, really, who among us has not wept at professional interior decorating? It may be schmaltz to a T, but can’t we just own our love for absurd sentimentality? Who even cares anymore?
Anyway — television aside — Glass’takes on compliment-grubbers, the rich/poor dichotomy, and corporal punishment for children (among other topics) lack a sort of thematic through-line, to be sure. Hence the title of the album. But, as a whole, Todd Glass Talks About Stuff reflects a meaningful exploration of all of the weirdness we confront each and every day.