A Review Of The Grammy Nominated Comedy Albums Of 2018

A Review Of The Grammy Nominated Comedy Albums Of 2018

Feb 05

Ira Riklis gives a review of each of this year’s Grammy-nominated comedy albums, including the winner of best Comedy album of 2018 – The Age of Spin & Deep in the Heart of Texas by Dave Chappelle.

Dave Chappelle: The Age of Spin & Deep in the Heart of Texas

Dave Chappelle has been around the comedy scene since he was 14. The comedian isn’t afraid to tackle the day’s political controversies while poking fun at his own flaws. The hour long “Age of Spin” was released on Netflix in March 2017 and combined with Deep in the Heart of Texas, a special filmed in Austin, Texas. Together, the two performances represent the diversity of Chappelle’s range and style.

In “Spin”, Chappelle is introduced with a voice-over by Morgan Freeman and a flamboyant display of smoke and music. Filmed in Hollywood in 2016, Chappelle is clearly identified as the star of the show. “Deep in the Heart of Texas” provides viewers with a more down-to-earth Chappelle; filmed in Austin in 2015, he is dressed in denim and sits near the stage with a cigarette much of the show. Both shows have a lot of political/societal jokes–Bill Cosby’s rape accusations, O.J. Simpson, commentary on transgender identity and finding his way in the comedy world. There are times when he tries to go too deep into the issues of the day, but most of the program finds him upbeat and hilarious.

Cinco – Jim Gaffigan

He may not claim to be the cleanest comic in the industry, but Jim Gaffigan is a breath of fresh air considering the slew of profanity-laced, sexually explicit comedy performances that show up on popular streaming services. “Cinco” is 74 minutes of funny observations and sly jokes about life in the modern world. Family, food, culture, and technology are covered, as are other aspects of “normal” middle class living.

The special is named Cinco in honor of his fifth special–and his fifth child. He introduces his children in the beginning of the special with what looks like an excerpt out of Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind. His jokes are spot-on and relevant without coming across as cheesy or arrogant.

Jerry Before Seinfeld – Jerry Seinfeld

For those who spent years watching Seinfeld and his cast of characters on television and fell in love with the subtle “nothingness” that he jokes about will enjoy Jerry Before Seinfeld. Let’s face it, he has a way of making jokes about the most mundane things–and still getting a laugh. This special is the first in a $100 million deal with Netflix, and we can only hope to see more personality in the next special. Jerry Before Seinfeld is a retrospective, with clips of Seinfeld in his younger days infused with his current performance, but over the hour-long special he never reveals much about himself, like how he sees himself as an older comic or even what kind of life he is living now.

For those who expect Jerry Seinfeld as they remember him on television, they get Jerry Seinfeld. For those who were hoping for a little more insight or some interesting stories about his home and personal life, you might be disappointed. And of course, there are no politics, which can be a good thing in the volatile times we live in.

A Speck of Dust – Sarah Silverman

Once known for her shocking punchlines and politically charged jokes, Silverman has changed her tune with A Speck of Dust, released by Netflix in 2017. In this more intimate, conversational comedy routine, Silverman only occasionally reveals her past penchant for toilet humor and shock-and-awe strategy.  As a well-seasoned performer with two decades under her belt, Silverman has been able to keep her act fresh by rolling with the times and adapting to a new world order that requires a little more cultural sensitivity. A Speck of Dust has moments of craziness, political wanderings and hilarious inappropriateness, but Silverman pulls it off because she has the ability to say what she wants to say without sounding confrontational.

What Now? – Kevin Hart

Most people either like Kevin Hart or don’t. He’s a classic ‘from-the-bottom’ success story and has made millions performing both on stage and in movies. “What Now” was filmed in 2016 in his hometown of Philadelphia, which might help explain why the venue (Lincoln Financial Field football stadium) was packed with 53,000 attendees.

Hart’s comedic style has always been personal and self-effacing, and now that he’s at the top of the food chain, so to speak, his jokes reflect the life he and his family lives. His enthusiasm is as high as ever and often carries the audience through jokes that wouldn’t be funny coming from someone else.