by Ryan Meehan
Southern California comedian Doug Benson has been at the center of comedy’s counterculture movement for quite some time now. He wrote and directed the pro-marijuana legalization documentary “Super High Me”, which featured other individuals within the entertainment industry describing their experiences with sacrificing the magic plant to the fire gods. He was part of a performing troupe of comedians that did a travelling show called “The Marijuanalogues”, and usually makes it pretty obvious to the audience that’s he’s ripped a majority of the time.
“Smug Life” is a double album that features for the most part, the same structure and jokes on both discs. The album was recorded on the national counterculture holiday of April 20th in Bellevue, Washington which is a suburb of Seattle. Much like his documentary movie, this album is an experiment with his own personal usage of cannabis. The first disc was recorded during the early show, which Doug performed after a whole day off from his usual on-the-hour stoning. (This disc is called ‘Uncooked’) The second is from the late show, where Doug is (to put it mildly) more in his element if you can pick up what I’m layin’ down. (This disc is called ‘Cooked’) The experiment lies in the fact that Benson is leaving is up to the comedy consumer to decide which is funnier.
Doug has always been pretty good at improvising with off-the-cuff material as well as using technology to interact with his fans. This is evidenced by the second bit on the album where he reads Tweets that people in the audience had sent him in the half hour prior to the show. It’s particularly impressive because that’s about as improv as you can get, and it’s a crazy social commentary on how out of control Twitter has become. Just the fact that a comic can yell out “Who’s ‘FlyingBroham’?” and someone in the front row can affirm that they just sent the message is pretty incredible to say the least. We are definitely living in a very up-to-the-minute world nowadays, and it’s good to see that most comedians are acknowledging that and using it in their act.
Personally I think that the first CD is better, it’s got a stronger structure to it and doesn’t tend to be as “improvised” as the second one. Both discs intend to cover the same material, and for the most part they do-it’s just that on the second one they’re in a little bit of a different order. There’s some very severe stuff on here (particularly some of the jokes intended to piss off animal rights groups) but usually by the end of the bit you can tell that it’s all in good fun. Don’t get me wrong-it’s extremely R-rated fun, but isn’t that the best kind there is?
Although a lot of the material on this CD is about being under the influence, Benson is definitely not a one trick pony. He has an phenomenal sense of timing and an incredibly firm grasp on wordplay. It seems as if he’s always trying to come up with parodies of certain movies or television shows, and constantly finds himself mocking almost every type of other media within reach. Where this CD really shines is that Doug really interacts with the audience well. A lot of comedians (specifically within the insult genre) will attempt to berate the crowd at all costs, and Benson couldn’t be further from that type of comic. I get the sense that it’s almost as if he’s performing offstage, right next to the very same people that paid to get into the show.
The album comes out July 3rd, and it well worth the $9.99 for the two disc set. In tomorrow’s interview Doug will discuss some of his future projects, but in the meantime you can order his new CD on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Smug-Life-Doug-Benson/dp/B008402MB8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339896200&sr=8-1&keywords=doug+benson+smug+life
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