Patton Oswalt's newest stand-up album is a
tour-de-force of nerdy obsessions and inventive material
Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief
Patton Oswalt’s latest CD, “Finest Hour,” clocking in at about
75 minutes, is an elaborate return to form after his last
special “My Weakness Is Strong,” two years ago, which seemed to
slip a bit from his frentic and literate style of material.
Oswalt dines out proudly on nerdy obsessions, even to the point
of putting a hidden bonus track on the album – a follow up to
the “Failure Pile in a Sadness Bowl” piece (actually titled
“America Has Spoken”) appears unlisted
within the second half of this album’s last track.
Oswalt may be a bit tempered by fatherhood, but not by much, and
he seems to have gotten that out of his system in his 2009
special. Here, on “Finest Hour,” he delivers pieces mocking his
own sloth, like “The Miracle of Sweatpants,” “The Burroughs of
Carbs,” “The Slob Avatar” and “The Ham Incident.” On
“Burroughs,” he wonders why there’s no way to be as cool as
legendary artistic drug-users and alcoholics like William
Burroughs and Keith Richards when overdoing it by eating. In
someone else’s hands, maybe this idea would be commonplace but
in Oswalt’s, it’s taken on inventive tangents.
Similarly with “The Ham Incident,” marveling at a sloth-like
patron ahead of him in the deli line at the supermarket, Oswalt
constructs a whole sci-fi comic-book like story of what his
reaction to the guy might have really meant.
There’s still notes of domestic life in this album, like “The
Limits of Dancing,” talking about getting winded trying to play
with his daughter and comparing it to the physical decline of
Axl Rose – tying in one of his obsessive takes on pop culture.
Really, any comedy album where you have to stifle laughter when
listening on headphones in public, and “Finest Hour” has that
effect numerous times.