Michelle Buteau gets audiences to “Shut Up!” with commanding debut album
Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief
By Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief
With several years’ seasoning as a stand-up, and a growing list of TV credits including “Key & Peele,” “Last Comic Standing” and VH1, MTV and Oxygen commentary shows, Michelle Buteau (see interview, 1/4/07) has just added another key element to her resume with “Shut Up!” a Comedy Central album showcasing her stand-up material, released September 4.
The album, accompanied by a corresponding Comedy Central “Half Hour” special, captures Buteau’s crowd work, onstage attitude and persona, and some inventive material. Buteau delivers some short stories, and some riffing on her own life, especially getting married. Along the way, she lands on some memorable lines with enough force to really stick in your head.
Buteau’s confident mastery of the stage when confronted with a disruptive audience member or two – not quite hecklers, more like drunks who don’t realize they’re thinking out loud – is like a velvet fist. In response to someone mumbling “I appreciate your comments,” she mock-sweetly says, “Let me explain to you the way a comedy show works. I talk … (pause) and you just laugh.” With a similar tone, Buteau, riffing off a prior bit about Utah and Mormons, asks the companion of a woman who was also piping up, “Are you her brother-husband?”
A longer piece on the album, “Gangsta Harry Potter,” shows Buteau’s storytelling talent and vivid language, talking about a weirdo on the subway who “digs in his nose like he was looking for an answer.” In another segment, speaking about family, Buteau recalls her mom telling her not to get drunk and start talking to strangers, to which she replied, ‘That’s my thing, don’t take that away from me.’ It’s a nice set-up for one of this album’s memorable lines that sticks with you.
On “Shut Up!”, you can hear how Buteau connects with audiences and infuses her material with a sunny personality, even when it’s sarcastic or cutting, as with a Joan Rivers-style jab at one of the Kardashians. With this album and special, Buteau stakes a claim on bigger things in the future.
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