I am guessing being a new father, feedings at three in the morning, and probably not getting any for the first couple of weeks are what gave Tom Simmons an extra edge when he worked on and recorded Stages, his fourth independent release stand-up comedy CD. The title reflects the content in that the tracks were recorded while Simmons performed on different comedy club stages. This explains the varying sound from stereo track to mono track though none is questionably recorded. The tracks just sound different.

Stages is really solid. I have enjoyed Tom Simmons’ stand-up comedy since his first CD, One. This latest release, his fourth, makes me wonder why this guy does not have his own sit-com yet or a full-fledged Comedy Central special with all the hooplah that goes with it. This is excellent autobiographical and observational comedy though what really stands out is how original Simmons is.

The CD opens strong with Owen on the birth of the comic’s child and the first and very traumatic 48 hours of a baby. This is really funny and original stuff. A couple of the tracks are already dated, such as Muslims / Cartoons and references to the BTK killer but that’s what you get for going topical in a 24/7 news world where last hour’s news is fish wrap. I also very much enjoyed the bit on inanimate objects and Uscan machines. Gay marriage is a popular topic for comics these days and Simmon’s contribution is, with its tie in to serial killers, very different and funny.

Though Tom Simmons is not an in your face offensive comic, his short bits on Rosa Parks, Ghandi, and Pope Benedict certainly have a bite. You have to give due credit to a comic who can easily do edgy stuff and more mom and pop comedy like being in Vegas or the, once again original, Locksmiths bit.

The fun thing about having the first three comedy CDs by Tom Simmons is you can see the progress. This stand-up comic already started strong with One but the material in Stages is tighter, a little darker, and, not to detract in any way from the earlier releases, funnier. I do not often applaud a comic while listening to his stand-up, be it on CD or DVD, but I applauded at least three times while listening to this one.

If I have a quibble with Stages it is in the track order. The CD opens with the really good bit on Simmons naming his new born child but on track 13 you get his bit on his wife’s pregnancy. I know a comedy CD is not a movie but it kind of jarred. I would also have eliminated the outro track as it does nothing. It is followed by the interesting “Open Mike Time” which is basically an extra feature kind of thing with bits and pieces outtake style.

Any serious fan of stand-up comedy must have at least one Tom Simmons stand-up comedy CD  in his collection. Stages is a great place to start before you decide to get the others.

Tom Simmons
Stand-up comedy CD
Independent release

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