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Interrupting the Regularly Scheduled Program

Openly marijuana-inspired stand-up Doug Benson displays casual, chilled comedy on new CD/DVD

By Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief

Self-proclaimed stoner comic Doug Benson is back with a new Comedy Central deluxe CD/DVD set, “Potty Mouth,” that contains a 13-track stand-up performance from Sacramento, Calif., on none other than the marijuana holiday of 4/20 this year, along with a DVD featuring six episodes of his Comedy Central series, “The Benson Interruption.”

Benson does veer away from his favorite topic in the performance (see review of his last album, 9/2/10) – in fact he does tend to careen from topic to topic with few common threads. But Benson counts as his colleagues very smart alternative comics like Todd Barry, Sarah Silverman and Patton Oswalt, and deservedly so, because there is an intelligence underneath all the pot posturing, crafting his material.

First, Benson’s pot material is original and truly is where his bread is buttered. He has a large enough fan following as a result that he can successfully release and sell a second straight deluxe album set for a second year in a row. In “Mush Brain,” for example, Benson bemoans the day he agreed to go on CNN to promote his movie, “Super High Me,” because doing a remote interview would make him looked more stoned than he normally might.

And “S#*! You Can’t Say On Television,” checks in on the topic of George Carlin’s landmark piece, noting that even after decades and declining levels of cause for offense, “shit” is still rarely heard on TV. Except on the FX cable channel, perhaps, as Benson says, he heard it as the beginning and end of a sentence on a show – “Shit is gonna get real up in this shit” – meaning it’s clearly used too much on this one channel that does.

The intelligence that Benson has going for him is more evident on the “Interruption” episodes on the DVD. The show is built around the concept of guest stand-up comics, including well known names such as Adam Carolla and alternative comics like Tig Notaro and Brian Posehn, doing pieces of their material with Benson seated stage right and interrupting them at will. At times, it’s less interruption and more conversation, as with Nick Swardson (see album review, 7/21/07). At others, Benson’s interruptions complement the performers and heighten the show. Either way, you can see how Benson can indeed cover a range of topics and inspirations. His own act may not seem formalized or strictly written, and he does a lot with his personality and a little crowd work in the performance on the CD, but there’s definitely more to Benson than first meets the eye.




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