Brent Weinbach 

The Night Shift

It's a testament to Brent Weinbach's comic persona that he can get a laugh by repeating the word "prego" over and over again, as he does in "Making Sense," a sketch on his new comedy album, The Night Shift. The sketch opens with Weinbach explaining how he got into the "highly gifted" track at his elementary school, despite being "retarded." ("I was retarded, but I worked out so much on my Soloflex that even my brain muscles got buff like the rest of my body.") Mid-reverie, he recalls an encounter with a street artist in Venice, Italy. Their conversation ends with the artist chanting "prego" with increasingly weird intonation. First he rolls the "r." Then he spits the "p" and slurs the "rego." Then he muddles all the letters together and coughs them out, as though "prego" were lodged in his esophagus. By the 24th "prego," the word is no longer comprehensible. Ultimately, "prego" turns into "L'Eggo my Eggo" (per the ad campaign for Eggo waffles). It's a strange bit of random association that perfectly captures Weinbach's style of humor.

Weinbach enjoys comparing himself to radio monologist Joe Frank, though the two are actually quite distinct. Frank specializes in weird, divagating stories that are often more philosophical than they are funny; he mixes in vintage soul soundtracks that give his words a hypnotic feel. Weinbach, in contrast, is purely absurd, maniacally funny, and so far beyond the walls of political correctness that — well, you'll either like it or you won't. Weinbach intercuts his stories with music, too, but mostly in the form of stand-alone songs rather than a canned soundscape. The songs are terrific: All Weinbach originals (outside of his comedy career, he's a capable jazz pianist), all sung in a faux-lounge-singer voice, all thematically tied to the rest of the album. In a way, they present another side of the famously neurotic Weinbach, who is best known for puerile word-play and intelligent poop humor. Among the other tracks are some Weinbach oldies but goodies (e.g., "Substitute Teaching Reprise") and a penis joke that he's refined over several years ("Language"). There's even a random nod to the Cleveland hip-hop group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. The Night Shift has depth for those who seek it, but a lot of the humor lies right on the surface. Like the word "prego," it gets even better with repetition. (Talent Moat)

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