Near the start of his sophomore album, Danny Bevins begins one of those-defense-of-comedy salvos that usually heralds a mediocre, trying-too-hard set. “I didn’t go to the library at 2 in the afternoon and start spitting out dick jokes. You came here. Remember when you were a kid and people go, ‘There’s a time and a place?’ Well guess what, motherfuckers: this is it.”
These don’t-get-offended whines almost always come from comedians who want permission to be crass without being witty and mistake reconfirming stereotypes with pretending to keep it real. Fortunately Bevins knows what he’s saying is bullshit. Yes, comedy can be unbelievably filthy, and comedians should have the license to say things others won’t. Political correctness is often the death of comedy, but audiences have little interest in hearing anyone air out their prejudices or attack straw men. Bevins doesn’t back down from covering Topics with a “T” on Inappropriate. A few missteps aside, he gets away with talking about abortion, religion and all the other classic dinner-time discussion points by personalizing the experience and filtering his humor through a fleshed-out, truly unique point of view.
A good comedian always explains who they are and where they are coming from. For Bevins, that means going back to the beginning. After complaining about his uptight father, his grandfather told him, “Well, he didn’t want you. You was an accident. Don’t worry about it. Shit happens a lot.” Bevins goes on to explain how his parents had just gotten married and weren’t ready to have kids, but his mom refused to have an abortion. “That’s a lot for an 8-year-old to hear.”
Telling this story to a group of strangers is brave. That Bevins turns it into a highlight is a testament to his ability to walk up to a rhetorical live wire, act like he’s going to electrocute himself and instead run circles around it. It also explains his point of view. Bevins is that rarest of political comedians—already a species in short supply—in that he’s a true independent able to skewer both sides of the aisles, and he clearly loves that his circumstances give him a cover to poke one of America’s buzziest hornet’s nests from all sides, claiming within a two-minutes span that “Religion saved my life. I get to fuck with every atheist I ever meet!” and “People get mad at me. They call me a hypocrite. ‘If that’s your story, how can you be Pro-Choice?’ My answer is simple: I don’t think they made the right decision. I know me, and this just screams ‘mulligan.’”
Bevins is at his best when he uses real, first-hand examples to ground his arguments, then flips the discussion via unexpected framing techniques. He uses his mom, “Jesus’s Biggest Fan,” to illustrate the difference between good Christians and bad Christians, making a bold but oddly convincing narcotics metaphor to hammer his point home. Good Christians use faith like potheads, he notes, in order to mellow out, and bad Christians abuse faith like cokeheads, thus becoming impossible to be around. Bevins also takes on a group of women he heard using the terms “slut” and “whore” interchangeably when attacking a young lady’s style of dress; they are clearly different (and in his mind, equally wonderful) things. Though for all his strengths in this area, it should be noted that his voice work is not particularly unique, and all of the uptight white women, rednecks and offended complainers he impersonates sound fairly stock.
Inappropriate is a confident, well-paced release, but it’s too long by a third and would have benefited greatly if Bevins weeded out his most glaring bad habit. He has a specific point of view when talking about The Problems We Face, but he runs into trouble with generalities. Examining the recent economic collapse, he thinks both The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movement were just tailgaters, and proceeds to tweak the latter. The best Bevins comes up with is making fun of people whining that the cops weren’t very nice to the protesters, which feels like a bunt at best, at worst a way for him to tick “Make fun of Liberals for a minute” off his Independent Comedian checklist. He also discusses why various ethnicities tend to be good at certain jobs, which falls on both sides of the “Stupid stereotype/Making fun of people for believing in stupid stereotypes” line and throws in a few lame, sub-Margaret Cho Korean accents to boot.
But these just seem like growing pains, and the bizarre closing monologue about what Bevins wants at his funeral feels like something that should be on a different album entirely. The comedy world can always use more mavericks, and it’s worth putting up with a few dead ends to hear Bevins speak his mind; he has a knack for handing the inappropriate appropriately.