You never quite know what you’re going to find in a Rory Scovel performance, and he succeeds in bewildering the audiences at the San Francisco Punch Line where he recorded his new stand-up comedy CD, “Dilation,” earlier this year.
Not that bewilderment is a bad thing to produce. Scovel likes to keep you guessing. Even in the first track, “hunger,” which isn’t really about hunger — all of the tracks listed aren’t what they appear to be, either — you can hear an audience member react to a Scovel punchline with one word: “What?”
And halfway through the disc, Scovel says: “If you’re in your car right now listening to this, just start it over.” Indeed. But he continues: “That’s so weird to think about, that someone in the future might hear this. And we’re in the past! Talking directly to people in the future, like they’re, ‘Whoa! Is he in my machine player? Is he in my machine? But then, fine, CD player. I don’t know what it’s called.'” Pause. “Take your next right.” Pause. And so on. Then it gets weirder, as Scovel gets into an argument with an audience member about facts about Michigan, although the comedian eventually wins out with his Robocop bit.
Outbursts. Accents. Crude sex jokes. Tangents. Asides. One-liners. Self-referential comments about the CD recording. Extended silence, even. Scovel mixes it up throughout the hour, with the audience off-balance throughout. Which is right where he wants them. After all, isn’t comedy all about upending your expectations?
Here’s the track listing. Maybe if you read it slowly, it’ll all make more sense to you: hunger, drive, walk, relax/sit, eat, breathe, expand, wake up, smile, live, remember.
Buy “Dilation” via iTunes.