May 19, 2006
Eugene Mirman "En Garde, Society!"
Eugene Mirman irks me. He has this self-congratulatory grin, this content smirk that just demands to be slapped. He reminds you of the kid in your fifth period class who sits in the middle of the row. He's not smart enough to sit at the front of the class with the smart kids, but he's not stupid enough to sit in the back with the losers/cool kids. So he sits in the middle of the row, and because he falls between the smart kids and the dumb-ass kids, he's usually just a smart-ass. Sure, the kid might know his stuff, but he's also prone to saying really dumb things, too; for every thing that he says that makes you laugh, he'll say something that makes you think, "what a dumb-ass.”
Which, of course, is just the feeling you'll get when you listen to his Sub Pop debut, En Garde, Society!, his second collection of live performance and homemade movies. The first disc, recorded last fall in New York, is, what one would assume, is a rather straightforward Mirman set. It’s packed full of non-stop jokes, many of which fall firmly into the category of “funny, but not ‘ha-ha’ funny.” His set is packed full of jabs and jokes about religion, society, animals, dudes who say “tube-steaks” and Edinburgh, Scotland. He is so rapid-fire in his approach, that it’s inevitable that he will occasionally fail miserably. But does he let it stop him? Nope, he just moves forward, soldiering on, and without looking at him, it’s hard to tell if he’s sincere or if he’s intentionally throwing in cheesy material designed to fall flat. Not that he’s a Neil Hamburger, though; Mirman’s routine is funny, and there’s no “bad comedian” shtick to be found here. Of course, most comedy recordings suffer from losing the visual element, so it’s really nothing to fault Mirman for. Still, if you can’t see him live, then this isn’t a bad substitute.
Oddly enough, the DVD portion of En Garde, Society! is much funnier than his stand-up routine> The disc features eight Mirman films and a parody of one of Mirman’s films. Here, in brief three to five minute sketches, he’s more focused, and given that Mirman has that smart-ass look, watching him emote makes his comedy even funnier. I mean, really, the sly grin seen during “Sexpert,” the in-your-face attitude of “Punk,” and the utter hilarity that is the back-in-time “Sir Eugene” prove to be just as funny as his night-club act.
Mirman will make you laugh. Maybe not every time, but he’ll make you laugh enough.
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