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Comedy Reviews - CD - Greg Proops - Joke Book

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Greg Proops
Joke Book
Stand Up! Records 2006
64 minutes

Greg Proops of Whose Line Is It Anyway? fame is a verbose stand-up comic who is not as genial on stage as his TV show persona might make you think. There is a misplaced aggressiveness on his stand-up comedy CD Joke Book that eventually irritates.  This is a miss and hit series of routines that feel disorganized. You get the feeling Proops is relying a bit too much on his talent for improvisation to make up for a joke book written in garrulous shorthand.

To be generous perhaps Proops was having an off night or two while recording Joke Book.  It is certainly not the audience's fault even if Proops goes after it a couple of times for not reacting appropriately to his material. It is obvious he is sometimes improvising and it often works such as his take on Minnesota weather on the opening track and then crashes as his Indian discovering casinos bit that fails; this is the first time and not the last the comic comments on the audience's silence.

Not that Proops cannot be original. His take on Hawaii as being less than paradisiacal but chicken heaven is certainly different, turning the island into a version of Mississippi or Alabama, but he gets carried away "an orgiastic miasma of Petronius proportions, a Fellini Satyricon feeding orgy...."  and as he has not set up why he hates Hawaii so much the payoff is not really there.

The comic also goes for easy comedy targets such as trailer homes and hurricanes and Michael Jackson, tracks four and five of this CD. Men My Age is a messy bit I still cannot quite figure out. His Immigration bit though it has a couple of decent callbacks is not particularly original and, again, disorganized. Women's Organs is a freedom of choice rant that is not particularly fresh when it attacks redneck bible-belt morons and explaining why men could not possibly give birth.

He also takes on Barry Bonds and the steroids hearings. Joke Book gets somewhat better when Greg Proops gets political at the end of this stand-up comedy CD. He is quite scathing and somewhat original especially when he goes after the Bush twins, something few comics do for some reason.

It is easy to date Joke Book with its long bit on Cheney's wet dream (my joke) or hunting accident and the free pass he got out of it.  His visual of Cheney at the hunt is certainly original and funny with quite a few good references to Elmer Fudd, The Flintstones, and Dante. He then ponders what would happen if a normal person had such an accident.

Greg Proops Joke Book closes pretty much like it opens with a routine that opens on a topic, Clinton getting Monicaed, and gets prolix before getting to its fairly obvious point.

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