Thursday, September 10, 2009

Patton Oswalt - 'My Weakness is Strong'

My Weakness is Strong, Patton Oswalt’s first comedy album since his knockout 2006 record Werewolves and Lollipops and the little kiddie film that could, Ratatouille, finds the stand-up comic at a crossroads. Recorded February 28, 2009 at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington D.C., the CD/DVD combo is his first “grown-up” record, as the best jokes tend to focus on his wife and hopes for his (at the time) unborn daughter.

Granted, these topics lead to the time he and his wife disturbed an orgy and then tried to play it off (“He comes out of the bathroom, and he got dressed in whatever was there. And here’s what was in the bathroom: A pair of girl’s sweatpants that he has put on backwards so the word ‘juicy’ is across his groin… which, I hate to say, probably factually accurate”) and how he quit drugs to be a better father to his daughter (“I’m not afraid that I’m gonna be on acid and put her in a microwave or something. What I’m afraid of is… [she remembers] having breakfast with her dad and he was like. ‘What are you having there, Lucky Charms? Alright, let me tell you the whole conspiracy behind Lucky Charms”).

For the most part, Weakness really is strong. Oswalt jokes about his vices (drugs, depression, weight issues, and hating everything), and it’s hi-larious. Plus, it’s all-new material. The topics are well-worn for Oswalt (time traveling to the ’90s, etc.); the jokes are new. But here’s the thing, while Oswalt once kidded about how he never wanted to be one of those stand-ups that talks about his family ad nauseum, such jokes are now his strongest material. Cracks about religion (the track “Sky Cake”) and airplanes (“Airplane”) feel unfinished. There’s a clear, solid set up in spite of the hacky premise, but the punchlines need work, which isn’t going to happen since the guy is already planning his next batch of material. Even bits that are hysterical (“Rats” in particular) tack on certain unnecessary humor codas. Most of the limp jokes are near the end of the record, though, and Oswalt pulls back up in time for closing bit “The Magician,” a story about a magician who “hate fucks the crowd with magic.”

Werewolves and Lollipops was a great stand-up record – and the one that got me back into comedy CDs. My Weakness is Strong, by comparison, is just good. But it’s kind of like complaining about how the Clash only made one London Calling. Give ’Em Enough Rope and Sandinista! are still worth your time too. Oswalt has said that each of his records is a snapshot of where he is in his life. Hopefully, Weakness is a hint of where Oswalt’s next album will go: still angry, but a lot happier from fatherhood too.

The "Rats" bit:

And here's a classic from Werewolves and Lollipops:

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