Judge Erich Asperschlager is hungry for a super salad.
"How long has Scantron had an exclusive contract with No. 2 pencils?"
Nick Thune has been on the comedy scene for less than a decade, but already he's one of the hottest comics working today. Okay, maybe that's not exactly true. But it should be. This young stand-up comedian/actor/writer is way too handsome to be so funny, but he is. And his newest comedy album, Thick Noon is one of the funniest things I've ever heard.
Like Stephen Wright with a guitar, Thune's set is mostly killer one-liners. He begins with nearly ten minutes of jokes backed up "Alice's Restaurant"-style with acoustic fingerpicking. For some reason, it makes lines like "The other day I walked in on my roommate while I was masturbating" and "the only technical part of a technical college is that it's technically a community college" even funnier than they already are. His laid back, easy charm immediately ingratiates Thune with his audience, bringing them along down strange, short paths that end with musings about the origin of the phrase "kill two birds with one stone" ("When in history was there an abundance of birds and a shortage of stones?") and the idea that if blind people had brooms instead of canes, the world would be a lot cleaner. Thune's jokes are surprisingly literary for being about smoking weed and how awesome backflips are. His love of language comes through in a story about getting mad at a waiter for falsely offering a super salad (soup or salad) and suggesting he change it to "salad or soup" in the future because "we know the soup's not going to get any 'salad-er'."
Thune balances the one-liners with longer "songs"—stories with musical accompaniment and catchy choruses. He gets help from back-up singer Kyle Moseby on "Instant Messenger," about an online relationship when he was 14. It's the touching tale of a chat room romance with someone named NsyncHottie503, with references to free AOL minutes, dial-up connections, and LOL-ing ("It's like I knew she was just kidding, but I was literally laughing out loud; and if you're doing that while talking to someone on the internet, you have to tell them"). Thune's second song, "Missed Connections," points out just how crazy it is to think a Craigslist ad could reunite two people who only almost met in the real world.
The album ends with five in-studio songs: "Here Girl (For a Lost, Pregnant Dog)," "Butterflies," "Iron Man," "Lobster," and "Dreams." They are a good showcase for Thune's musical comedy, at least when it comes to '80s-style synth songwriting.
And that's the CD. The DVD is where things get a little weird.
The DVD has Nick Thune's Comedy Central special, which is almost identical to the album performance except for a few additional and missing jokes. Even though much of the material is the same, the wording and delivery is slightly different in the special, which makes for a fascinating look at the process of stand-up comedy. I'm fine with the repetition, since that's pretty much how these CD/DVD combo sets go. What's odd, though, is that the DVD includes the half-hour special in both "aired" and "uncut" versions. They are exactly the same, except that the aired version is about ten minutes shorter, which means there's pretty much no reason to watch the aired version, ever.
In addition to the two versions of the Comedy Central special, the DVD includes a collection of Nick's online videos. There are three episodes of "Nick's Big Show," a mockumentary about Nick creating a ridiculous one-man show. "Bog Show" co-stars Kate Micucci (half of comedy musical duo Garfunkel and Oates) and the hilarious Nick Kroll. It's a brilliant send-up of pretentious celebrity vanity projects, and is easily as good as Thune's stand-up. Unfortunately, only three of the six webisodes are on the disc. To see the rest of the story, the DVD menu directs you to nicksbigshow.com. Really? They couldn't find room for three more online shorts, but they had enough space for two versions of the same TV special?
The DVD also has several of Nick's "iThunes Short Films"—part sketch comedy, part music videos. "Lobster" puts the crustacean love song from the CD into hilarious context; "Phone Tag" features Olivia Munn as the ex-girlfriend Nick writes the 27 second "Butterflies" for; "AIM" is the "Instant Messenger" song from his act set in a tech support group; and "Here Girl" is a straight-up music video. Only "Load/Unload"—about Nick trying to buy a bagel and coffee before a three-minute parking limit runs out—is not based on something found elsewhere on the set.
It looks like the only way to buy a physical copy of Thick Noon is as a CD/DVD combo. Even though the DVD is a bit of a mess, with two copies of the same special and only half of "Nick's Big Show," Nick Thune is so funny you should buy it anyway. If you really don't feel like spending the extra $5, you can buy the album as a digital download. According to Thune's web site, he's holding a contest where if people buy his album, he'll make money. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.
I'm so sorry to hear your grandfather's hearing has AIDS; you should go be with your family. Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
• Short Films
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