It may not be fair to judge every live comedy album by stacking it up against the art form’s modern standard-bearer (rehearsed comedy, at least), but in the case of Dan Cummins’ latest, Hear This!, it’s tough to start the conversation without first nodding towards a few glaring surface similarities to Louis CK’s Hilarious. For starters, its back half is also mostly saturated with first-hand tales of being a single father of two. More broadly, both comics tend to take an observational approach that eschews surrealism or one-liners, instead eagerly exposing more of their true selves. They deal in our world.
But while CK thrives in finding and dissecting cognitive dissonance in conventional wisdom, Cummins indulges it. Over-the-top indulges it. He understands the massive entitlement inherent to road rage, but instead of relaying it by pointing out how incredibly dangerous transportation was just a century ago, he leaves it as is, implied, and sprints in the opposite direction. “At that moment, that’s not a human driving that car,” he rants on “Dead”. “That’s not a father or a husband or a pillar of their community who overcame childhood obesity to be a motivational speaker. That’s a motherfucker whose car needs to explode.”
This doesn’t work for him without fail, especially when he starts to shift towards preachy territory, like with his slightly-too-honest take on skinny jeans-wearing men (think Mark Cuban’s Skechers commercial drawn out for two minutes) on “Hipsters”, as well as that one landed with his Portland audience. But it’s a style Cummins certainly commands more often than not on Hear This!, resulting in some of his funniest material to date.
Essential Tracks: “Dead”, “Smoothie Assault”, and “Kicking Kids”