Author Archive

First of Dismay

Neil Hamburger

First of Dismay
Drag City

By John Wenzel

Figuring out what makes Hamburger so magnetic is part of the masochistic fun. Is it his carnie inflection? His abusive, unpredictable rage and profanity? His spot-on critiques of consumer culture that have made him a must-follow on Twitter? Ultimately it’s all in service of the mood he creates.

 
Live at the Bootleg

Karen Kilgariff

Live at the Bootleg
AST Records

By John Wenzel

Kilgariff’s a fine singer, with a wavering, vulnerable voice that falls somewhere between coffee shop balladeer and demented children’s entertainer. Her saccharine delivery complements the murky timbre of her acoustic guitar and sells the jokes against the often bleak, angry lyrics.

 
reign in laughs

John Tole

Reign in Laughs
Stand Up! Records

By John Wenzel

Tole fares best when focusing on life’s intimate, cringe-worthy moments–most of which involve sexual embarrassment and end with a breathless, reference-heavy rant. But even then it feels diluted by his reliance on profanity.

 
beta male

Kumail Nanjiani

Beta Male
Comedy Central

By John Wenzel

Beta Male is neither cliquish nor exclusionary. Nanjiani’s style is smart but also unusually welcoming, laced with self-conscious colloquialisms yet relatable in its observational goofiness.

 
andy and his grandmother

Andy Kaufman

Andy and His Grandmother
Drag City

By John Wenzel

Given his renown for a certain type of conceptual prank that has come to bear the unfortunate moniker of “anti-comedy,” it’s fair to ask if Kaufman would have wanted anything to do with this relatively straightforward sampler.

 
 
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