Filed under: Reviews
Sitting down to listen to Jackie Jenkins Jr.'s album, The Jackie Jenkins Jr. Bootleg Comedy Extravaganza, was one of the things I enjoy most about comedy – experiencing something I've not heard before. Jackie is a New Orleans-based comic who has two self-produced specials: Jackie Jenkins Jr. Presents FU (2008) and Laughin Jack's Presents: I Have a Dream, Too! (Amazon Prime, 2018), produces an independent sketch comedy show Laughin Jack's Presents: The Jackie Jenkins Jr Bootleg TV Show, and has been working rooms doing comedy around America opening for legends like Paul Mooney. This is a person who understands the grind.
When I started listening to comedy albums, the thing that drew me to the format was hearing perspectives that were outside my own. Living in small town Ontario, I had this narrow slice of the world that was isolated from the views and experiences of others. It was through performers like Carlin, Pryor, and Murphy that I heard voices with experiences different from mine, which taught me to see the absurdity in the world. I got slices of life from cities far away and communities other than my own.
Jackie Jenkins Jr.'s Bootleg Comedy Extravaganza is a perfect example of this. With bits and jokes drawn from a host of different performances, Jenkins creates a montage of funny bits interspersed with the kinds of off-the-cuff or audience experiences that can only be felt in real-life clubs. Often, when you sit down to listen to a comedy album, it's a highly-produced album full of polished bits that you can feel a person has been performing time and time again, finding the perfect punch line and then parading the joke in front of the perfect curated audience to get the perfect recording. That's to be admired and enjoyed, but isn't what a comedy show really is.
Comedy shows are as much the polished bit as the spontaneous in-the-moment reality of telling a joke and rolling with the punches and laughs that come, responding to an audience that is sometimes as rowdy as the performer and being able to keep the comedic ball in motion. And that's what Jackie does. This could almost be called a guerrilla comedy album. It was recorded using the technology at hand and in an impromptu nature, but it's clearly assembled with care to create something that gives you a slice.
Once you're done listing to the album, if you close your eyes, you can almost feel the heat of the lights, taste the booze, and smell the musky air of the bar. It gives you the impression of the New Orleans comedy scene, its audiences, and its performers. You get to touch a community that is at once right there and hundreds of miles away, and that's one of the most special parts of all this new technology: it gives us a chance to hear funny new voices like Jackie's.