Jon Steinberg's hysterical new album, Between Me and the Wall is endearingly quaint and intimate. It feels less like a stand up special than a nightclub set, but just as entertaining. It's a weirdly-vibed show, peppered with whip fast crowd work, which blends together nicely.
He drifts around, discussing his girlfriend, who he refers to as weird, his life in comedy and his chronic (tee hee hee) marijuana use. If you put Mitch Hedberg and Doug Benson through the transporter machine from The Fly, what emerges from the other side would probably be Jon Steinberg.
He sprinkles his longer diversions with one-liners that evoke the best work of greats such as Steven Wright and Anthony Jeselnik. Steinberg may talk slow, but he thinks fast.
It's immediately amusing to hear Steinberg commenting on his stage intro, while the intro itself was left on the cutting room floor. It's an interesting, off-kilter choice. Note his hilarious and lengthy interaction with an audience member named Tim. Sometimes you win the crowd work lottery and sometimes you lose. Here, Steinberg instantly knows he won.
In the album's most slight track (maybe it just seems weak due to its close proximity to my favorite track, "Financial News"), titled "Interesting Fact", Steinberg might be pulling his punches. I would never spoil the joke's contents, but it's a short diversion that leads to a surreal, slightly violent conclusion. Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with the violence, drug use, etc.The word "offended" ain't in my vocabulary.
My problem? It could have been a tad meaner, a bit crueler. Even the simplest audience member knows that he's drifted into comedic embellishment. Why not push it even further? It seemed odd to push as far (sexually) as "Public Service Announcement" does and then, take a more reserved stance on violence. We know it's fiction. Even Steinberg comments on the audiences lack of engagement with that diversion.
Jon Steinberg is a young Canadian comedian with great potential and equally great material. It's beautiful to hear the same audience members gasp at Steinberg's first use of the word "bitch" and then, applaud at his second use. A perfect example of the exact thing that every comic should be trying to do: take the thing that makes people feel uncomfortable and make 'em laugh at it.
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.