Play the Word is a very good concept that could have used a little more care. The basic idea is to get comedy writers such as Jay Kogen, Cindy Chupack, Eric Gilliland, Beth Lapides, Julia Sweeny, Cindy Caponera, and Rob Cohen perform some of their funny material, in this case humorous stories or essays they have written. It works, to a point.

Granted, aside from Julia Sweeny (God Said Ha! and Saturday Night Live), none of these people are professional comedians, comics, or performers, and you do have to give them a little leeway. The problem is how much leeway, how forgiving an audience are you before you just sort of feel your generosity is being abused?

The Harvest, by Jay Kogen (writer for The Simpsons and The Ben Stiller Show) is a very interesting story about going through artificial insemination that could have been a lot funnier and more touching if the writing, yes, the writing, had been a little tighter. You should not expect Kogen to deliver his material like a professional comic and he does a decent job of it at that. The problem is the story feels like it is still an early draft and the author / reader seems to get lost in his own tale somewhere near the very end.

“Hey Baby” Weight by Cindy Chupack (Sex & The City) is a fun story about going on one of those weird 10-day diets. The story works, the humor works, the observations work, and even the telling works. You do get the feeling the story could somehow have been better but since it is hard to nail down how, it is a satisfying experience nonetheless.

Eric Gilliland (who worked on Roseanne for a fairly long while) has a fishing story. It has an interesting premise and the promise about some revelation about male bonding and things like that but in the end is just a red herring.

One of the strongest comic stories on this CD is Mickey’s Shadow by Beth Lapides, who runs this event. This is probably where some of the dissatisfaction with the other readers comes from. It is obvious Lapides polished her story and has practiced its reading so everything flows smoothly both story wise and delivery wise. It is a story about, of all things sample paint chips and what you can tell about people and the universe from them. It is highly entertaining, tight, not bust a gut funny but very humorous nonetheless.

At Any Minute is Julia Sweeny’s contribution to this independent release CD of funny tales. It is basically about your usual Jewish mother and her ability to control her kids through guilt. The premise is the father is very sick and dying and this could be the last party or whatever other moment together and that this has been going on for some twenty years. Sweeny does well in the reading and the material works but you definitely get the impression this is stuff being tried out on an audience and that’s fair enough.

Cindy Caponera has the penultimate spot on this comic story CD with When I Was a Hottie. It is definitely a chick story that belongs as a monologue or short moment in a chick flick. It works. It is not an earth shattering, life-changing story but, hey, not everything is meant to be like that and if you are entertained, and I was, that’s all you really expect sometimes.

This independent CD closes with a story or essay by Rob Cohen (The Simpsons and The Ben Stiller Show) titled Jerry Lewis Called Me A Faggot. The delivery is a bit monotone and although it is an original story, its premise of Jerry Lewis being a giant prick is nothing quite new so the material doesn’t really rise above that premise.

The main problem with Play The Word, Volume 2 by Un-Cabaret is the production values. The liner has an interesting illustration but is marred by a bad Polaroid picture on the back. The CD itself looks homemade to the point its only distinguishing feature is a black 2 on a mirror CD. The sound from track to track hits peaks and lows so a listener constantly has to adjust the volume from story to story; never a relaxing and listening enducing task.

Play the Word
Volume 2
stand-up comedy CD

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