Back in my school days, people were constantly trying to tell me what I should
do with my life career-wise. The top three things my friends and acquaintances
chose for my future profession were a game show host, a DJ, and a stand up
comedian. People I’d never generally speak to in high school would come up and
say things like, “Man, you so funny! What are you smokin’?” Yours truly was on
nothing, just high on life. And they couldn’t believe it. Oh, but it was true!
Did I happen to mention that there’s an embarrassing picture of me in a junior
high yearbook holding up a retarded “Just Say No” t-shirt with two other dorks?
Apparently my name was drawn randomly out of the proverbial hat for that one.
Anyway, yes I’ve always loved comedy from when I was just a wee lad. I’ve also
always appreciated the great comedy recording that can stand the test of time.
This isn’t an easy achievement, mind you. Inevitably, for every comedian making
an LP there are going to be things in the routine that will date them. However,
the truly great comics generally have material that will remain funny for years
afterward. For example, my first taste of the comedy recording was by this guy
called Brother Dave Gardner, who recorded a string of hilarious albums in the
early ‘60s. That’s right, these were my parents’ albums, but for some reason
they cracked me up even at five years old or so. Hey, I was a sharp tack, what
can I say? Anyway, Gardner was just a really funny dude and it’s a shame more
people don’t know of him.
Other faves of mine include Emo Philips’ terrific E=MO2, Steve Martin’s Let’s
Get Small, and the Firesign Theater’s Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The
Pliers. All of these are great examples of comedy albums that still remain funny
long after their initial presence is felt. So you might be saying, “Hey J., you
seem to know a bit about the comedy recording and what’s good. How can I get
into this as well?” Well, one of my favorite current outlets is the Opie and
Anthony show on XM satellite radio. Two very funny dudes who often have great
comedians on their broadcast, one of whom is Stephen Lynch, a musical comic.
Lynch’s latest recording is called The Craig Machine, in reference to a
hilarious tune on the album about Jesus Christ’s little-known brother, Craig.
Stephen’s been working the comedy circuit for a number of years now, and this
album is his third release, a nice little live disc jam-packed with 15 tracks of
comedy goodness. Not since the great Tenacious D released their rockin’
self-titled disc have I laughed and listened to a musical comic’s album over and
over. Lynch rocks it out on his acoustic guitar with a little help from friends
on bass and piano on a couple tracks. But of course, it’s the yuks that count,
and there are plenty to be heard here.
But I don’t wanna give everything away here because you truly need to hear this
disc for yourself with fresh ears without some critic writing all the punchlines
down. So let me just point the way to some of my fave tracks instead. There’s
the aforementioned “Craig,” which is a great one, and there’s also “Halloween,”
about a creepy psycho predator. The perils of dating a Nazi litter “Little Tiny
Moustache,” while “Mixer in Delta Chi” will hit close to home for any of those
who slept with the professor and got away with it. And if all that wasn’t good
enough, there’s also “Classic Rock Song,” which is everything its title
There are a couple tunes here that are so-so, such as “Pierre” and “Whittlin’
Man,” but for the most part The Craig Machine is a top-notch comedy disc that
anyone with a taste for the perverse and good rockin’ tunes should enjoy. Yes,
that means it’s actually better than ¾ of Prince’s output. Ha! See…Prince
stopped releasing truly great albums a long time ago, and…well, you get the
idea…ahem. Just get this album already.