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Back in the High Life Again

Doug Benson stays on familiar ground with new CD playing to his fan base.

By Cristina Merrill / Jester correspondent

If you were expecting Doug Benson to deviate from his beloved topic of marijuana in his new CD, “Hypocritical Oaf,” (released Aug. 31 on the Comedy Central label) then it is high time you cleaned out your water pipe. “Hypocritical Oaf” is a compilation of stand-up acts Benson performed in Minneapolis, which he frequently refers to as “Minneap” (“It’s totally cool to shorten words,” he says). Fans will flock to pick up Benson’s latest CD, but they will be disappointed if they were expecting him to have anything new to say.  Benson never strays far from the topic of weed, whether it has to do with having it, smoking it, or trying to get it. There is nothing wrong with having a shtick, but if Benson is really serious about this whole comedy business, he should come up with a new one. And fast.

In his first track, “Deets,” Benson talks about the dumb things people do when they are high, like spending an hour looking for a lighter. “Your hand is always the last place you look,” he said. In “Weak Back Problems,” Benson talks about the time he went to get permission from a California doctor to smoke cannabis to alleviate back pain he alleges he himself made up. “I don’t know if anyone gets turned away,” he said about the application process. He adds, “This is some legit shit going on here.” 

Benson nearly redeems himself with “Pot the Vote,” in which he pokes fun at bloggers. Imitating two hypothetical people who meet at a bar and leave together, he said, “Let’s get on separate computers and write stuff about our lives.” Benson could have had fun with this bit, as the overabundance of bloggers in cyberspace is great fodder, but he doesn’t expand on that, instead turning back to familiar territory right away on the next piece, “Sitting There In Your Own Filth.” At least Benson was halfway decent on this track. He mentioned a friend of his who does not smoke or drink (“He’s the designated Not Me”) and said he appreciates non-smokers at his shows because it proves, to himself at least, that even people who are not under the influence can appreciate his humor.

Benson does have some moments that draw on other subjects. In “Breakfast Window,” he jokes about being at McDonald’s during its breakfast hours, referring to these hours as “an exciting time to be alive.” His best track on the CD was “Booty/Weedy Text,” in which he refers to the “Holy Grail” of texts. “I have never gotten a text that says ‘I have weed and I wanna blow you,’” he said.

In his last piece, “Big Finish,” Benson invites the audience to choose the closing joke of the evening. An audience member requests old jokes of Benson’s. He politely declines, as those jokes were on previous albums. But he has a suggestion. “If you know any bits that I might be thinking of in the future, you are perfectly free to go out and yell for those,” he said, to which an audience member replies, “chicken porn.”  “That’s something you think that’s gonna be on my radar in the future?” Benson asked, much to his audience’s amusement. 

Comedy is about taking chances, but Benson rarely does this, opting instead to play it safe by staying on familiar ground. He does get the laughs, but after awhile, drawing on pot and getting high gets a little repetitive. It’s understandable when that’s gotten him a lot of love -- over 93,000 followers on Twitter and several Facebook pages devoted to him. But if Benson wants staying power, he should branch out to other topics that have nothing to do with weed.  Eventually his pot-smoking followers will find other ways to spend their time. After all, if pot is eventually legalized, it might lose its allure as a “dangerous” topic for comedy.




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