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Comedy Reviews - CD - Dan Mintz - The Stranger

The Stranger

The Stranger
Dan Mintz
Comedy CD and MP3 Album
Comedy Central Records 2014

Dan Mintz is set to release his first comedy album -- "The Stranger" -- on Comedy Central Records.

The spectrum of stand-up comedy styles swings from "short form" to "long form."  Short form stand-up is typically one-liners, or short bits; long form is extended or longer stories and bits.  Some comics work purely in one style, while others maintain acts that shift from one to the other.

Mintz is a comic that works purely in short form stand-up; quick setup, punchline, quick setup, punchline, and so on.  Mintz's delivery is deadpan, with minimal to no emotion or inflection.  

Mintz had an episode of Comedy Central Presents in 2008, which I loved.  Those episodes, once you exclude commercial time, typically run about 20 minutes in length.  It was a solid 20 minutes, and since I have never had the opportunity to see him live, I have been patiently waiting for more from this comic ever since.  After six long years, Mintz now has his first full-length comedy release, which clocks in at about 50 minutes.

So, was it worth the wait?  Yes and no.  Largely yes.  With short form stand-up, there are a LOT of jokes packed into a 50 minute set.  Many of them are great, and this album definitely will bring repeat listens.  But, as a whole, the album lacks a bit of cohesiveness.

When a comic shifts back and forth between short form and long form comedy, there is plenty of room for experimentation with different attitudes and personalities.  For example, say a comic works almost entirely clean, and tells a lot of long form stories.  During such a set, it is not uncommon for the comic to throw in a blue, short form one-liner.  When done in that manner, the one-liner comes across almost as a throw away, an afterthought.  It is often delivered with a slight smirk, as if to tell the audience that the comic is aware that it does not "fit" with the rest of the act.  And the audience is ok with it.  But, when a comic's set is entirely short form, the comic really needs to have a specific voice, a specific personality.  Whether talking about a veteran comic like Stephen Wright, or more modern comics like Demetri Martin or Anthony Jeselnik, these comics all structure sets around a very defined personality.

That defined personality and structure is somewhat lacking in Mintz's set.  The overwhelming majority of the set is delivered by a guy whose persona can generally be described as innocent, gentle, and perhaps a little naive.  A perfect example is Mintz's joke that "Whenever I ask my parents who their favorite kid is, they always tell me that they don't have a favorite ... which kind of hurts my feelings as an only child."  Funny, and almost demands sympathy or an "aww" type of response.  Compare that to another of Mintz's jokes: "They say that women like scars, but when I slashed this girl's face…"  If shown those two jokes on paper, one would not think they were delivered by the same comic.  In fact, referring back to the comics mentioned above, that line seems more aligned with an Anthony Jeselnik joke.

That is not to say that the album is not good.  It is good.  Very good.  And, each individual joke works, on its own.  It's just that, as an album, it feels a bit disjointed.  I will nonetheless keep this album in my personal rotation, and I look forward to more from this comic.

Brett Watson



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