Even though his son is only 4, Dave Williamson was already forced to have a sex talk with him. Why? Because, contrary to common misconceptions, 4-year-olds can in fact get spontaneous erections, and some mothers can get freaked out. “It’s going down!” Williamson’s wife screams. “Technically, it’s going up,” Williamson replies, “But I’ll go talk to him.” Of the near-hour of solid comedy on Williamson’s debut album, Thicker Than Water, the five-and-a-half-minute “Pee Pee Talk” with his 4-year-old is its shining moment.
Totally unprepared for this intimate conversation, Williamson does some homework, which consists solely of speaking with his mother. Content that he’ll be able to satiate a toddler’s curiosity, he enters his son’s room: “Listen, buddy. Mommy says that you’ve got a question about your pee pee for Daddy. And you know you can ask Daddy anything, so what’s up, dude?” “Daddy,” his son begins, “sometimes my pee pee is sleeping. But then sometimes, my pee pee…IT’S AWAKE!”
“He knew it was a bad-ass thing,” Williamson explains. “He just didn’t know why.” The ensuing dialogue takes an absurd twist when the boy realizes his scrotum can act as “a little blankie for your pee pee.” Completely taken aback, Williamson can only reply, “Holy shit, dude. You’re right!” Noting the wisdom of his sage toddler, Williamson finally puts him to bed, but not before promising, “I’m gonna come back in the morning. I have more questions for you.”
This bit showcases Williamson at his best. It’s not that the subject is necessarily overplayed, but it is one seemingly too easy from which to mine humor. Discussing a penis with a 4-year-old is so rife with comedic potential that it’s almost unfunny to contemplate or listen to because of the sheer ease of the scenario. But Williamson is able to turn the situation on its head, reversing the parent-child dynamic and somehow deifying his son over the most juvenile of discoveries. (It also doesn’t hurt that Williamson’s impression of his son is itself funny—he voices him as a middle-aged sot.) It is Williamson’s reaction to his progeny’s newfound sagacity, however, that raises the bit to a higher comedic level: “No one ever told me this. I’ve been letting my pee pee freeze at night for 30 years!… It makes total sense: there’s two little pillows in there and everything.” By actually encouraging his child’s analysis, Williamson not only makes the boy somehow mature, but he renders himself immature as a result. The net effect is doubly funny as it should be.
Williamson approaches every event, obstacle and conversation with a palpable sense of awe—a childlike naiveté that is utterly charming and wholly endearing. While it takes him a few tracks to get going, once he locks in he doesn’t let go. His closer is underwhelming, and there are certainly a few spots where more laughs are needed. But overall, Williamson comes off very confidently, seeming comfortable, alert and aware.
His cadence is spotty, but it doesn’t stem from a lack of ability. He’s Marc Maron without the neurotic; Kyle Kinane without the outrageous. Certain jokes and lines are worded with undoubted purpose, but Williamson’s something of an ambler. His comedy is not a straight line; it juts about, zigzagging its way through his stories, dialogues and clandestine philosophies.
On “Joggers,” Williamson laments the fact that Americans are becoming more health-conscious. He paints a picture of someone drunkenly driving home during the wee hours of the night and witnessing a stunning spectacle: a jogger on the side of the street. “That guy’s on tomorrow,” Williamson says, stunned. “I’m still on today. How is that possible?”
And on “Lots of Love,” Williamson dissects the inanity of his mother’s use of “LOL.” Upon joining Facebook, she begins writing on people’s walls, ending many of her sentiments with the well-understood abbreviation, misguidedly thinking it stands for “Lots of Love:” “So sorry to hear about the death of your aunt…LOL!” When Williamson tries to educate her, though, she gets indignant: “No, it means both things. My generation back in the day always used ‘LOL’ to mean ‘Lots of Love.’ They know what I’m talking about.” For what form of communication, Williamson wonders aloud, could she possibly have needed this abbreviation back in the day? And in typical Williamson fashion, the comedian is able to spin this bizarre situation into an equally bizarre line of thinking as funny as it is unconventional.
Thicker Than Water, without question, possesses highs and lows. The beginning and end are lackluster, and, again, there are a few spots in the middle where the laughs are under-collected. Williamson’s a gifted comedian, but he seems to still be finding his voice. In this way, it’s actually surprising how solid his debut is, considering his best is yet to come. He has the talent and he has the confidence. Now, he just needs time.