Baron Vaughn, “Raised By Cable”
I've called Baron Vaughn a quintuple threat before, praising his ability to weave back and forth from joke-telling, acting, dancing, singing and rapping, plus an intangible quality he brings to the stage. Of course, not all of his talents can be seen on a CD -- perhaps he should have put out a DVD version, too?
Vaughn opens his hour-long, 17-track "Raised By Cable" by exploring the nature of how and why people become comedians. Later on, after explaining his mixed heritage, he explains: "Some of you were like, 'Now I know why you need to tell jokes." But his imagined spin off of that includes becoming a dinosaur fairy to drug addicts as well as an impression of an unintelligible rapper, which segues seemlessly into a demonstration of his vocal talents as he inhabits celebrities from a generation far removed from the cliched impersonations most comedians and most young audiences clamor for or have come to expect. But that comes late into his set.
Vaughn's first impression of Los Angeles certainly strikes a chord -- it's all driving from one "best burger" joint to another, sometimes complaining about the drive. Whereas New York, where he had lived before, is all about people trying to make eye contact with one another vs. those who don't want to connect with strangers.
Vaughn will scat, sing, or break out sound effects anytime, anyplace. He also possesses an active vernacular and wide range of pop culture references that he'll also drop into a bit. I suppose that's what happens when you're "Raised By Cable." Fun fact: Vaughn had a ticket on the US Airways flight from NYC to Charlotte for the same time as Sully Sullenberger's river landing, but for the following day. Funnier fact: Vaughn's impersonation of a cat sounds uncannily like Nick Swardson -- until it breaks out into Seal's "Kiss from a Rose." His theory on how cat people become Cat People starts out reasonably enough, then heightens and heightens. When he beatboxes during his discourse on "Safe Sex," he quickly rationalizes it. "You've got to show her you know how to use your mouth."
A section in which he discusses going with his then-girlfriend for STD tests, and wonders about the existence of a KKK website, is among his strongest and well-tested material.
But buyer beware: Vaughn's closing number, which, yes, includes a song, might just get stuck in your head on infinite loop. Just remember to use your inside voice when you sing along.