by Ryan Meehan
On Tuesday February 5th, Comedy Central Records released the new standup comedy CD/DVD package from Eugene Mirman entitled “An Evening of Comedy in a Fake Underground Laboratory”. The disc is the fifth and newest release from the mind of comedy’s most creative and bizarre performers, and is sure to be a hit amongst fans of this genre. Mirman is perhaps best known for his role on as the landlord on “Flight of the Conchords”, as well as his current roles as Yvgeny Mirminsky on “Delocated” and Gene Belcher on the FOX sitcom “Bob’s Burgers”. He’s very friendly and warm in his demeanor and put quite simply, if you can find a reason to hate him it’s probably your fault and not his.
Filmed at the world famous Fillmore Theatre in San Francisco, the disc begins with Mirman discussing how he signed up for a social networking website that features members of the Tea Party. I’m not the biggest fan of a lot of political humor if it has a direct agenda, but he just mocks some of their ideology and it’s pretty funny. There’s a lot to make fun of there and Mirman certainly takes advantage of that opportunity.
The CD then moves on through some other funny anecdotal tales, and about 1/3 of the way through lands on a really solid bit where Eugene answers some questions that audience members have submitted to him. This is comedic gold…and features some great material such as: “Q: ‘My consciousness keeps projecting into my direwolf…what should I do?’ A: Hmmm…Get a Job” My co-worker tells me that this is a reference to the fantasy literary series of “A Song of Ice and Fire”, which I had no idea. But it’s crazy that even though I had no idea what the fuck that meant, I still got the joke and found it to be hilarious. This is probably one of my favorite parts of the CD and just about every answer is perfect. And it’s typical of Mirman, who likes to bring things to the stage with him to read. One of the more popular bits on the album is where he has saved napkins that he writes on at bars, usually left as messages to other people who may pick them up. It’s sort of a self-help open to interpretation that upon first glance may seem a little mean, but is very playful in nature. Plus (as Mirman states) you probably shouldn’t ever take advice from anything that is written on a napkin in the first place. A lot of real gems here too. The one section of the album that I was not too particularly fond of was a bit where he utilizes a Theremin to tell a story, and the back half of the bit features Kristen Schaal (The Daily Show, Bob’s Burgers) being asked out on a date by the device itself as played by Mirman. Although I think Kristen is a great writer and a good comedic sideling, I’d be dishonest if I didn’t mention that the sound of her voice bothers me a lot.
The disc ends with a bit of an education for anybody who might be interested in purchasing ads on Facebook. Even though I hate that website and the irritating “14 year old girl” mindset that it seems to be infiltrating our culture with, I found this closing set to be very informative. Apparently, the way Facebook ads work is you purchase an ad that will reach a certain demographic. For example, if you were advertising a dating site where single guys who wanted to date women who ride horses, you would purchase an ad that targeted men between the age of 21-34 who “liked” Toby Keith and “Obama Sucks”. Then your ad would appear on the right hand side of the screen for users whose profiles fit those demographics, and you’d be able to track how many clicks each ad would get at the end of the time period the ad has run. As you can imagine, Mirman’s ideas were a little bit on the “Did I just read that right?” side of things and provides for some great stuff. As I usually say, I’m not going to give away any of the bits but there are some really good ideas here and it’s very much a “you can do this at home thing” as well. What I mean by that is, I was shocked to learn how unbelievably inexpensive it is to buy advertising on Facebook. According to Mirman, these ads can cost as little as $30 to $40 and they must not be adjusted for cost of living as that’s a low price for somebody who lives in New York. It’s definitely planted a seed inside my head, and has me wondering if maybe I couldn’t come up with a few as well.
Eugene definitely falls into the “smarter” crowd of comedians such as Demetri Martin. I use the word “smarter” instead of “cleverer” because I’m sure the latter isn’t an actual term. Although it may not penetrate your tightly puckered anus with punch lines every other second, it’s full of stories from interesting social experiments which is where Mirman tends to shine. It’s in these social experiments where Mirman is able to create a whole different world of his own where the jokes are indeed 100% of his creation, because he created the experiment himself. The future of comedy lies within the ideas that artists have to create those worlds and invite the audience in, as opposed to simply giving your take on a subject that thousands of comedians have already explored. In other words, it’s pure ingenuity. You can call it “alternative comedy”, “thinking man’s comedy”, or whatever other nomenclature you choose, but in the end it’s just purely creative.
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