Self-appointed rock and comedy god Dave Hill showcases his signature style in first-ever album
By Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief
For those who are familiar with comedian Dave Hill, his debut album “Let Me Turn You On,” being released June 9 by A Special Thing Records, might be a bit of a disappointment, as it features signature bits that those who have seen him live in his home base of New York in years past will already know.
But for those who have yet to discover the comic, who has long gestated a persona that is certainly different than traditional stand-up comedy, but not quite so far out there as to be called performance art [see 2006 and 2009 reviews of live shows], “Let Me Turn You On” is certainly a good introduction to his tone and sensibility.
Two pieces, “The Magic of Japan” and “The Time I Went To Prison,” are emblematic of what Hill does. He has done other pieces about playing with his hard rock band in Japan, usually told in a cocky way, about how they would utterly destroy with their musical prowess. In “Magic of Japan,” we get a bit of the backstage element of that – Hill’s fascination with the deluxe bidets on many toilets in Japan, and how that feature could keep one on the seat for hours.
“Prison,” a story Hill has told in performance frequently over the years, lets him share his vulnerable side. As something of a stunt, Hill decides he must perform comedy at a prison, choosing Sing Sing, about an hour north of New York City. His bravado gives way to vulnerability once he starts going through the procedures to enter and prepare to perform – but also some subversion as he jokes about picking “the gayest looking picture of myself” to put on flyers about his show.
The less familiar pieces on the album are a mixed bag – “Irritable Chimps” and “Osama the Elephant” have elements that are either unnecessarily gruesome (the former) or just dull (the latter). But there are plenty of gems. “Erotic Short Stories” finds Hill vamping over some funky guitar playing – drily delivering one-liners like “‘Is this infected?’ he asked the sexy lady doctor. ‘Not yet,’ she said.” And in “How To Run A Marathon,” Hill decides the hardest thing about running a marathon is “shutting the fuck up about it,” and then goes on to describe his plan to leave his house some random Tuesday and just run one without telling anyone. It’s a brilliant play on extending the joke by going off on a creative take on a premise.
Overall, “Let Me Turn You On” is less consistent and through and through “awesome” as Hill’s live shows that I recall seeing, but it still has enough worthwhile material to recommend it. The whole album is only $8.99 digitally, or you could just pick and choose a few of the tracks recommended in this review.
Also, for an account of Dave Hill hosting Dick Cavett in a
live performance in 2009, see here.
Also, for an account of Dave Hill hosting Dick Cavett in a live performance in 2009, see here.
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© 2005-2017 Michael Shashoua