Ted Alexandro released his new 69-minute video stand-up comedy special, “I Did It,” today on his website, tedalexandro.com.
Other comedians have self-released their stand-up sets before, and as Alexandro noted in a message he sent out to fans and friends last night, he clearly was inspired by acts such as his comedy friend Louis C.K. and the band Radiohead, making “I Did It” available at a price of your own choosing. “It feels like a more genuine interaction with you, my faceless consumer. I think it really takes our relationship to the next level,” Alexandro wrote.
Doing so on Valentine’s Day may seem sweet or ironic, depending on your reaction.
“Valentine’s Day, Alexandro? Really? What the hell do you know about love?” That’s a question he himself raises and then answers, actually over the course of much of “I Did It.”
Filmed last year during a weeklong residency at The Creek and The Cave in Long Island City and directed by Matthew L. Weiss, the 44-year-old Alexandro extolls the virtues of remaining single as long as he has so far, into the early stages of middle age. Hence, the title: “I Did It.”
Living as a bachelor means not having to impress anyone, and yet Alexandro reveals right from the start of his set that he continues to delude himself into thinking he’s better than he is — mostly by buying fruits and vegetables from the store despite knowing he likely won’t eat them. And bags of salad? Forget it! “Salad is just a reminder that you could be doing better at life,” he jokes.
While plenty of comedians have compared marriage to their cell-phone contracts, Alexandro takes a step further back for perspective, letting us know he kept an account with Blockbuster Video when he was a 20-something. It seemed like a good idea at the time. “So don’t get married in your 20s,” he deadpans.
Seeing Alexandro work out material in New York City, he’s a different beast there. Relishing the silence as he’ll lean back against the comedy club wall to ponder a new thought. You forget the Alexandro that’s out there on the road as a veteran headliner, and you see him here, leaning into the crowd, pushing forward to make his points with authority.
“Hallmark doesn’t have cards for real love,” he says. “Real love is messy and challenging…real love is work.”
He may have stepped up his activism here in NYC over the past couple of years with Occupy Wall Street (and even more locally in my neighborhood with Occupy Astoria), but onstage, he’s really more interested in staying out of the action, not getting involved when it comes to his neighbors and their own drama. Alexandro has a quick bit late in the set where he floats the option of killing billionaires — one at a time, people! let’s not get crazy. However, that’s a sidetrack to his prolonged routines on love and sex and our attitudes toward them. There’s a reason we’re invited to your wedding but not your marriage. Men’s expectations are warped by porn, and just imagine how our grandfathers used to have it. Women aren’t getting off any easy, either, especially if they want to accuse the fellas of paying for sex without realizing the hypocrisy in that.
Mostly, though, Alexandro finds himself performing a high-wire balancing act that vacillates between silly and serious.
For every moment that he’s admitting how unfunny he is in real life or trying to speak fake Chinese, he’s also blocking his Facebook friends for their racist thoughts or condemning the corporate takeover of our election campaigns. On that latter point, Alexandro wisely, deftly softens the message by repeatedly telling us we can stare at our phones and check our emails while he plows through this difficult reality.
Alexandro just turned 45, and he’s really still on the rise with his comedy game.
He may joke: “I’m kinda retired from trying to be young.”
And that may be the wisest thing he’s done yet, so you may want to go ahead and listen to what the man says.