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Strong Persuader

Patton Oswalt's newest stand-up album is a tour-de-force of nerdy obsessions and inventive material


By 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.



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