Filed under: Reviews
The title of Matthew Broussard's debut album, Pedantic, suggests a sense of self-awareness, but that doesn't make Broussard any less insufferable. While the majority of his jokes are just fine and even a bit clever, he spends more time talking about his personal circumstances than delivering punchlines. This could work if I felt like I knew who was speaking to me, but over the course of the whole album I never quite got a real sense of who he is.
At first he presents himself as a privileged, young, white, straight, cis, male who is not a bad guy but is a little bit scared of coming off as a bigot just because of how he looks and where he comes from. It makes him seem green, but pleasantly sympathetic – someone I want to listen to. As he goes on, however, he begins presenting as a mean, spoiled tool with a humble-brag sense of superiority and no self awareness at all. At the same time, his language suggests "nerd". Taken all together, it gives his character an unflattering sense of fakeness.
This may be because Broussard still has very little material to work with, and each joke requires a different voice in order to land. He mentions near the end of the album that he barely has enough material to fill it, and I'm not sure that was said entirely in jest. Coming up with and polishing material takes a long time and creating a curated album of material that fits well and flows together takes even longer. It may be that Broussard needs more time to figure out which jokes to cut and how to fit the remaining ones together. His act would be more engaging if he would either opt for a self-aware stage persona and drop the material that doesn't fit, or keep all of the material, rework some of it, and drop what little persona he has built.
The material itself is not bad – a lot of it is quite good. Broussard can be very clever, but despite his pedantic use of vocabulary he more often chooses not to be. He is obviously a very smart person (at a few points he reminds the audience that he went to college) which is why I think he could do a lot better with some of his premises. Admittedly, I know nothing of his writing process, but I get the impression that when writing his jokes he runs with the first funny thing that comes to him on any given subject. Although many of his premises are refreshingly original, he leaves them not fully explored and goes for the easy joke more times than I expected from the man behind Monday Punday.
Broussard has the makings of a very good "smart" comedian, he just needs to figure out how to use them. With a little more attention paid to the finer points of his writing and some additional time spent finding his voice, he could make it work.