By Ryan Meehan
Comedian Kyle Cease is back with his second album “I Highly Recommend This” available on Comedy Central Records September 4th, 2012. The record comes complete with a bonus DVD that includes Kyle’s “Comedy Central Presents” half hour special as well as other extra features.
Cease is probably best known outside standup comedy circles for his standup special, as well as his acting in films such as “10 Things I Hate About You” and “Not Another Teen Movie” and countless late night talk show appearances. Inside those standup comedy circles, Kyle is known for his assistance in helping other comedians polish their own act in his “Standup Bootcamp”. He’s a bit of a motivational speaker of sorts, and lists some of the methods he uses on his website. (http://www.kylecease.com/processes/) Although there are some comics who feel like that is a sidejob that they’re too good for, those comics are also broke. Kyle has turned the applications of his methods into a successful interactive comedic training course, and he should be applauded for doing so. His latest album is a bitches brew of all sorts of interpretive comedy styles, and I found it to be highly entertaining as well as recommendable.
ALBUM REVIEW: KYLE CEASE – “I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS”
This disc is very high energy the whole way through. It begins with sort of a punch-up take on death, and contains a great line about it: “Your flatline is the most pivotal sound of your entire goddamn life and it goes off the second you can’t hear it”. I love that line. Overall Cease works really, really fast. There are several bits on the record that you might miss if you’re not really dialed in. Kyle moves from subject to subject with lightning speed, and is quick to point out that comedy fans are a unique breed because they set aside a certain time of the week just to go have fun and laugh. In other words, he makes sure that they are on his side from the get-go.
The middle of the CD KC stays hot, and does a little bit of audience interaction. Here again, motivational guys are good with human interaction and Kyle bounces right off the crowd when discussing their occupations and such. Then Kyle does this sort of sampling thing that we had heard earlier this year on the Reggie Watts record in some form, but keep in mind Cease’s set that this CD was recorded at the Denver Comedy Works before Reggie’s Central Park performance. What he basically does is he took two tracks of him doing standup, mixed them together and played them in the background while he rapped over that mix. This is followed by another prerecorded track Cease brought with him to play that accompanies an updated bit he did on an earlier CD.
There’s an interesting portion of the set that is comprised of impressions that Kyle warns the audience ahead of time that might be poor. They’re not the greatest impressions of all time, but they are at least really creative. For the most part there are two separate callbacks that continue to show up on the disc and they are both high quality. The end of the album ties up nicely and the crowd seems to be genuinely satisfied with the whole experience.
It’s hard to explain exactly why I’m giving this CD such a high rating. Maybe it’s the fact that I generally tend to be more appreciative of the science of how comedy is done more than the respect I have for it as an artform. Perhaps it’s because I also tend to prefer a comic that takes care of business and gets on his way, but still makes his own films because he has so much creative overflow. Whatever it is, it works at a much higher percentile than a lot of other comedy records. I don’t want to list too many of the bits here because I really do believe that this record is worth purchasing. It’s not that I don’t want to go into greater detail, it’s just that I don’t want to spoil the fun of you ripping the packaging open and having a fresh laugh. And of course if you do buy the album, you get the bonus features which are oh so golden…
The bonus DVD is esstentially a CCP special that Cease did, but more importantly contains 12 of his video shorts. My favorite is the one in which Kyle plays a BP exec who has a tendency to haphazardly pour iodine into the ocean, and there may or may not be another short where he’s helping a young woman find her cervix. Two of them are heckler bits from the Denver Comedy Works, and it’s pretty much standard heckler work but solid nonetheless. There’s also a sketch that is apparently a parody of “The Real World” but it’s parodying a specific season so I didn’t really catch all of what the jokes were aimed at. Kyle and his brother put together most of these shorts early on in his career, so although all of the camera work may not be the best the material is awesome. Here again I don’t want to let the cats out of the bag, but I can assure you that several of those cats are funny as hell.
Overall score: 9.35/10.0
This disc is on the higher side of most comedy releases. It’s funny, in your face, and full of something for just about everybody. Want death? It’s here. Double Murder? That’s here also. But at times it can be playfully positive. Kyle is great at interacting with the crowd, and his ability to transition from one subject to another is virtually flawless. The only real drawback of the CD is something that isn’t really Kyle’s fault – There is a woman that I’m guessing is somewhere in her late thirties that has this extremely annoying hyena-like laugh that at times makes me want to break her in half. But usually at every comedy show that goes well, there is one person that stands out as being particularly annoying. That said, the writing is well above average and through the CD it’s obvious to the listener that he has a great stage presence even though you can’t see it on the album.
Cease’s greatest strengths lie within writing jokes but he’ll always have that motivational technique behind those jokes. He mentions on the album that you technically don’t have to get mad about everything, and he’s right. “If a guy cuts you off on the highway, you can just be like ‘Neat!'” It’s not corny at all either because there are parts of it that are so rough. Cease could be the most successful corporate comedian in the world if he was cleaner but he stepped forward and said “Fuck that, I’m not doing it that way”. He’s blazing his own path and reminding people that funny still holds the most important voice because it’s the artform that makes those who love it have the loudest voices of all. It’s like he says in his method: “No one is doing what they want, some people don’t even know that there is a voice they used to have.” Maybe he’s right, but though I highly recommend this CD, I also highly doubt most people are as talented as Kyle Cease.
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