It’s not Dan St. Germain’s fault the audio version of his comedy doesn’t do him justice. His image is a huge part of his act: With long hair and a scraggly beard, his aggressive comedic style is complemented by this distinctive look and an endearingly self-effacing presentation. But on his first album, Bad at the Good Times, something is lost in the transition to audio, and he ends up seeming much less relatable, sometimes even bordering on mean.
After opening with a vaguely amusing but completely unnecessary sketch, St. Germain begins talking to the crowd, interacting with an audience member who suggests a new, creative way to chug beer, and two random women who work in the entertainment industry. It’s the first indicator that this show isn’t going to be suited for an album. Capturing the excitement and energy of crowd work on a recording is nearly impossible, and here it drags on for far too long.
Luckily his material is strong, and when he focuses on his peculiarly strange approach to life—a great joke about driving up to a stranger on the street and yelling “Get in! There’s no time!” or a hilarious description of a break-up post-mortem sounding like the head of FEMA after Hurricane Sandy—it’s clear he really is the strong up-and-comer so many claim he is.
Much of this material will feel familiar to anyone who’s seen his Comedy Central Half Hour from 2013. The jokes are grouped under headings like “Me and the Ladies!” and “I Like Music!” But the material doesn’t really feel like a solid hour; he’s just running through everything he’s accrued over the years. He basically admits as much by titling one later track “Bits That Were Funny That I Don’t Have a Category For!”
Like most young comics, he’s at his best talking about his personal life; the bits most likely to stay with a listener are stories from rehab, or his many awkward encounters with women. When he veers into more general material the jokes assume a generic hodgepodge of styles, including geek-chic references or a bit about Whiz Khalifa that seems heavily influenced by Aziz Ansari. At worst, some of it feels like filler, which is particularly noticeable when his stronger, more resonant jokes—like the difference between the revelations one has while drunk versus high—so clearly demonstrate that his good stuff isn’t getting the presentation it deserves.
Recorded (as more and more comics are doing now) at the NerdMelt Theater in Los Angeles, Bad at the Good Times simply lacks the punch that a great stand-up show should have, and ultimately doesn’t feel much like a special at all. It’d be a shame for anyone to think this is the best St. Germain has to offer. He’s got much more going for him than this album lets on.