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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Kevin Nealon: “Whelmed…But Not Overly” (2013) CD/DVD Review



I admit I completely love Kevin Nealon, and have since I first saw him on Saturday Night Live back in the mid-1980s. His straight, somewhat casual delivery often makes what he’s saying even more surprising, catching you off guard. You don’t expect him to be nearly as funny as he is, because listening to him you sometimes get the feeling you’re listening to a friend. (As he jokes repeatedly on his new album, “You know me.”) He undersells his comedy, which – for me – makes it all the funnier.

His new two-disc set, Whelmed…But Not Overly, is seriously good. (I love the title, by the way.) His opening bit on skiing is perfect. For those who don’t ski, trails are marked to show their difficulty. Black diamonds are more difficult than the blue squares or green circles. Kevin Nealon mentions that he didn’t know about those signs either, and he asked a guy what the best mountain in the area is. The guy responded, “I like Copper Mountain, but a lot of people don’t like to go there because they’re afraid of all the blacks.” And from there it just gets funnier. “Some of them are not very well groomed, but if you want the good white powder, that’s where you got to go.”

He also makes several short, but funny observations. Like: “I learned something valuable – never wear a red shirt to Target.” And: “Do you think if Jesus Twittered, he would be checking to see how many followers he had all the time? I bet he would. He’s so like that. It’s all about numbers for him, isn’t it?

His parents are in their eighties, and he tells the audience, “They still hold hands, but I think that’s to keep from falling over.” His connection with the audience is immediate. There’s no easing into the routine. He’s off and running from the moment he hits the stage. He asks the audience, “You ever been so tired you fell asleep sitting up? That happened to me like four days ago. And I woke up and I thought, ‘Jesus, I’d better pull over, this is dangerous.” Then he adds, “And it is dangerous, what with the economy the way it is.”

Often it’s those little added bits between the lines that make me laugh. For example, he’s talking about television shows, and he says, “I’ll tell you what I do watch, though – you got a minute? – what I like to watch…” Just tossing in that “you got a minute?” is bloody brilliant. I also like that he returns to certain lines, like the bit about the economy.

I love his bit about the rapture: “That rapture never hit us, thank god. I guess it got pushed out to sea or something.” Then: “I knew it wasn’t going to hit us like the day before because I made a random phone call to Australia. They’re a day ahead of us, and guess what, someone picked up the phone.”

And remember: “You don’t play dead with a vulture.”

The two-disc set includes the performance on DVD and CD. The CD is just a couple of minutes shorter than the DVD, but all that’s missing is moments of the introduction and the closing credits, nothing from the actual performance itself. Also cut are a few seconds before he comes back out to thank the audience. This performance was filmed at Comedy Works South, in Colorado.

Whelmed…But Not Overly was released on May 28, 2013 through New Wave Dynamics.

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