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Gould and Plenty

Simpsons writer and longtime stand-up conceals a unique edge under conventional appearance.

Dana Gould, a Simpsons writer but also a longtime stand-up comedian, presents himself like a typical 40-something suburban dad, in matching sport coat and pants, rather than the hip or purposely sloppy looks employed by other stand-ups, but his material has all the edge if not more than many of his contemporaries as club headliners.

Seen October 4 at Comix in New York, the best of Gould’s material is the pieces that could be classified in some ways as ‘shaggy dog stories’ like his riff on how JFK’s brain was supposedly stolen from his autopsy and what someone might have done with it.

Gould’s age allows him to hark back to the dying days of old show business, with an uncomplimentary tale of being on one of Bob Hope’s last NBC specials, and trying to do a promo with Mr. Hope who couldn’t really be bothered to deliver his one line accurately.

His topics may be scattershot, but that range of material makes it easy to see where Gould could conjure the type of jokes and satire about America and domestic life that fuel The Simpsons, although his stand-up doesn’t resemble that show as a whole.

It’s actually his material about his family, both his father and his wife and kids, that resonates the most. And Gould knows how to draw it out, riffing at length on the type of hypothetical argument he might insist on prolonging with his wife: “If you were a turtle, how can you say I wouldn’t feed you? I would oil your shell every day.”

Gould illustrates trying to deal with young children’s lack of logic, thinking he has his young daughter’s agreement after being nagged for an hour to let her have a cheese snack before bed -- “O.K., cheese, but then no milk. You got that? ‘O.K.’ I give her the cheese, and right away, ‘Can I have some milk?’” To which he mock-explodes with profanity you would hope no one would really call their kid.

As a youth himself, leaving his small Massachusetts town to first pursue comedy in San Francisco, Gould laments that all his dad could say to him, was “‘If you go queer, don’t come home…’ Really, dad? Not ‘I’m proud of you, knock em dead’?” From there Gould imagines at X-rated length how he might have really stuck it to his dad by going queer. That was Gould’s finale this night, and it proved to be a raucous showstopper as Gould stretched it at length with elaborate miming of various sex acts. Far from family friendly mainstream satire a la The Simpsons, but equally effective.

Dana Gould has one stand-up album, Fun House, but also many audio files available through his website, 



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