Review: Todd Barry, “From Heaven”

Todd Barry’s third comedy CD, "From Heaven," comes out next Tuesday. Perhaps you’ve heard that. But you’re wondering more. What’s on the CD? Is it funny? Should I buy it? All good questions, yes. First, though, how about making sure you’re in the know.

For those who haven’t heard or seen Todd Barry, you may need to hear/see him a few times to get used to his delivery. Barry’s onstage voice and his regular speaking voice force you to pay attention to what he’s saying, lacking the typical changes in volume and inflection that would normally act as listening cues. That said, it also, at least in his live sets recently, helps play into his humor. Barry does not have the voice of a braggard, yet he’s often telling audiences he’s the best comedian they’ve ever seen. One joke on the CD has Barry going to the zoo to see panda bears but loving the prairie dogs more, then realizing that’s how audiences must feel when they see Barry as the opening act for another comic. Talk like that might make you think that "From Heaven," really could be subtitled, "From the Mouth of Todd." On this CD, though, hearing him and laughing along with him are not at issue. The crowd at the Comedy Studio in Cambridge, Mass., where Barry recorded these sets last year, laughed loud and often. The CD certainly wins comedy points for accuracy in track listings. It reads like the bullet point list of bits that you’d find on every stand-up comedian who’s about to take to the stage. Many times, CD listings attempt to give witty titles to each track, but in doing so, overlook some of the other jokes and bits in that track. Not so here.

Track listings for "From Heaven"…1) Working With Me, 2) Leak, Looking For Apartment, 3) Guy Who Needs Help, Been to NYC?, Driving With Friend, 4) Preachy Singer, English Washer, Alabama, Pittsburgh, 5) Birthdays, Challenge, Cambridge, Noodle Gift, 6) Prairie Dogs, Sweet Soap, 7) MySpace, Unbelievable Questions, Guy Who Reads Email, UF, 8) Chipotle, Trader Joe’s, 9) Old Navy, Short Shop, 10) Todd’s Address, Stay With Todd, Limo, Container Store, 11) Anal, Set An Alarm, 12) Amex, Pastry Chef, 13) Nurse’s T-shirt, Kid’s T-shirt, 14) Selling CDs, Springsteen at Bar, Moore at Party, Gawker, 15) Potter, Chinese Restaurant Conversation, 16) Fridge, Audience Member’s Tab, Best Celebrity Sighting.

Fans will note that Barry does change his accent a couple of times for "impersonations" of Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen. Sort of. He plays on the silly nature of Gawker Stalker. And for a few minutes, he pretends that he has reached an absurd level of success, and how he’d thusly live absurdly.

Much of "From Heaven" follows a simpler thematic premise. Here are some crazy/silly/stupid/odd things people have said or written in my presence, and here are my actual and potential responses to them, expanding exponentially to their comedic limits. One example you may have heard if you’ve heard Barry in the past year: "Chipotle’s delicious. Can you believe they were started by McDonald’s?" More examples are posted after the jump (in case you feel that’d be some sort of spoiler).

"Don’t worry, it’s not sh-t water." "This place I’m going to show you is great. It’s right across the street from Sarah Jessica Parker’s townhouse." "I could use a little help in the nose department." "New York City? Oh, yeah, I drove through there once." "You know, Todd, I’m not really a seat belt guy." "You did a show in Alabama. Oh my God, what was that like?" "You were so much funnier live than you were on Comedy Central." "It’s my friend’s birthday, can you totally rag on them?" "I wanted to challenge him comedically." "I didn’t like this hotel because the soap there smelled too sweet." "Do you know how old you have to be to get into that club?" "Dear Todd, or whoever reads Todd’s email." "Chipotle’s delicious. Can you believe they were started by McDonald’s?" "This place is great. They have the best pizza." "I don’t know if we do, but if we did, they’d be on the second floor, third table in from the left." "No wallets, no ties." "Todd, I’ve had anal sex before, but don’t ask me who it was with." "Can you set an alarm? I have to get up for work." "Gotta go to France to go to chocolate school." "Nurses kick butt." "She said she met Michael Moore at a party, and he was nice." "Eggnog. Egg-a-nog? No. Eggnog."

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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