Owen Benjamin makes his mark with debut hour-long stand-up special
By Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief
Comedian Owen Benjamin, like fellow clean-cut looking comics Daniel Tosh and Anthony Jeselnik, plays against appearance with darker material. On his first hour-long special, “High Five Til It Hurts!” which aired June 28 on Comedy Central and debuts as a CD-DVD album on July 2, Benjamin may not go quite as far with the dark humor or provocation as Tosh or Jeselnik. He uses a lighter touch.
Benjamin revs up with material that reminds one of a blander, late 1980s era stand-up boom kind of performer – dogs, driving, airports and relationships. But his writing does more than those types of comics did. In “Getting Pulled Over,” Benjamin imagines telling a cop who pulls him over for talking on a cellphone while driving that it’s legal for one-armed people to drive, so what does it matter what he does with his “extra arm.” This puts more depth and intelligence into the joke than one might have expected.
Benjamin also has another major talent in his arsenal – being able to credibly channel pop and rock music performers to parody them. The jokes here aren’t based on reproducing their sound note-for-note like “Weird Al” Yankovic (no knock on “Weird Al” here, I’m just explaining) but on commenting on something larger about how the music is received by listeners. Benjamin pulls this off in several short pieces that flow together: “Music/Timbaland,” “Beethoven,” “Same Song Over Again” and “Eddie Vedder.” On that last one, Benjamin observes that one of Pearl Jam’s early hits, “Yellow Ledbetter,” is a favorite “dude” song – and what the words are, or if there are even any decipherable words to it – doesn’t matter. (Benjamin’s point of view, not mine…). He also gives a similar treatment to tracks that Timbaland produced for Rihanna.
With this debut special, Owen Benjamin has established himself as a performer with potential. He is currently a regular on the TBS sitcom “Sullivan & Son” and has a list of comedic film credits in small roles, but here he gets to show what he can do on his own.
Feedback? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2005-2017 Michael Shashoua