Piece Comment

Review of "The I Hate Poetry Poetry Hour Half Hour' Show #27 on Being a Slob" including Where are My AWOL Housekeepers Now, Passage to Adventures on Joel's Living room floor,

Amusing. Quirky. Rough. Sometimes you just have to make do with PRX's pull-down list of adjectives to describe a piece. The list doesn't include the words "Bent" or "Cracked." Or "Likely Produced On Crack."

Give Joel Brussell credit for courage. Don't know about you all, but for me most attempts to be funny rely largely on the element of surprise. You go around being earnest and serious and once in a while you sneak in a mild witticism. With luck, you'll startle your companion into a chuckle, nervous or otherwise. Brussell is taking the much harder route of declaring himself an "edgy comedy writer." And he's doing so on public radio, where most listeners aren't used to real humor. A Prairie Home Companion was last funny in 1994. Car Talk? Early '98, I think it was. Brussell is daring us to find him unfunny, too.

My other disclaimer (and then I'll stop with the preamble) is that humor is notoriously subjective. I might guffaw at something you find lame, or vice versa. It doesn't do much good to explain the merits and tell you why you should have laughed. The thing either struck you as funny or it didn't.

So is this show funny? Well...yes, occasionally, in a cracked, bent way. No guffaws for me, but I chuckled a couple of times and smiled a few more, most often when Brussell wandered into song with his laconic Tom Baudette voice and goofball lyrics or turned on his ridiculously bad British accent. Perhaps the closest comparison on public radio is Le Show (for those lucky enough to hear it), though Brussell is not in Harry Shearer's league as a performer. The "I Hate Poetry..." show's production values are spotty and the pop songs, played in their entirety, feel like padding. But Brussell does some creative and funny bits. I'm glad he's trying radio and I hope he'll keep at it.