"I was not the lead in that movie." â€" Micah Sherman
"You mean -- you weren't the lead in that Matthew McConaughey movie?" â€" Myq Kaplan
If you were to describe Please Be Seated, I would probably turn up my nose at first: An album of comedic songs written/performed in an almost Simon and Garfunkel-esque fashion by the oddball duo of Myq Kaplan and Micah Sherman. Hmm? I don't usually seek out comedy songs on my own, with an occasional exception. (Uh, does the name Weird Al Yankovic mean anything to you? Jus' kidding.) Nothing personal. A traditional stand-up comic (which both Kaplan and Sherman are as well) must rely on the strength of their ideas to win over an audience. In more amateurish cases, the "funny song" can feel like a crutch, allowing the performer to hide behind their guitar, music, etc. "It wasn't all that funny, but the hook was catchy." Get my drift? I'll even admit -- I hit play on Please Be Seated with a tingling sense of dread.
How wrong was I? This is a fantastic li'l release. Kaplan and Sherman's intelligence reveals itself gradually, uncoiling one line at a time. It caught me totally off guard. They beautifully undercut the cheerful tone of the music with a healthy dose of anger and frustration. (I mean that as a compliment.) And the best lines come when you least expect. Three minutes into a particular track, you might find yourself wondering if this comedy sponge has been fully wrung out, and that's when it hits. I laughed hard and I laughed frequently. To my great relief, these guys know exactly what they're doing.
Kaplan and Sherman share a wonderfully likeable comedic chemistry, as between songs they banter, brilliantly playing off one another. They wisely understand that if this were just a series of studio recorded songs, the novelty could have worn off before the CD ended. (The opening 2 minutes of "Robobot" consists of the two guys riffing hilariously on almost nothing.) Also: One of the funniest moments is the forced encore/applause they demand midway through the record.
But, the overall casual feel of the album is one of its strongest points. "What Kind of Jerk Do You Wanna Be" is great track -- but made greater for the inclusion of the outtakes of Myq (endearingly, but not intentionally) messing up the first verse over and over again in front of the live audience. This lends the garage-band tone of the record an almost raw, haphazard feel. Not only is the album funny, but it also feels totally honest and authentic... despite any references to Matthew McConaughey's Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Myq Kaplan and Micah Sherman are -- without a doubt -- two comics to keep your eye on.
Please Be Seated is available in a multitude of formats (including the ones below) from BSeenMedia on Tuesday, September 25 (aka today!).
Tony Hinds is a Canadian writer who studied film at the University of Winnipeg. In addition to ShowbizMonkeys.com, Tony has reviewed films for Step On Magazine and The Uniter. You can find Tony on Twitter.