There are a lot of bad stand-up comedians. The ones who get the HBO Specials and Comedy Central shows are usually funny enough to make it through the local, regional and national gauntlet intact, so the chaff has mostly been separated. For every Louis C.K, Mitch Hedberg, Hannibal Buress, Bill Hicks or Richard Pryor, there are only a few Dane Cooks or Larry the Cable Guys to sift through.
It's worth sifting through the bad comics every time a truly great one is discovered. Nathan Brannon is one of those greats. His new comedy album, "Because," cements him not just as a great comic, but as a pretty great storyteller in his own right. The album takes a look at the rules we decide to follow as a civilization and questions why we need them in the first place.
Brannon sees society's rules as something to question, especially now. "If Trump's campaign has taught us anything, it's that there are no real rules anymore," says Brannon. "I think that applies to comedy as well. If it's funny and worth my time I'll give the material a shot. I don't plan on being a jerk, but I also don't plan on holding back."
His style of comedy relies heavily on personal anecdotes, while managing to tie everything together with universal truths (or un-truths). "Some of my favorite comedians are storytellers," says Brannon. "I don't see a difference between the two, as far as importance. A lot of times, I find that they lean on one another; how you say something on stage can make or break a joke, and if no one laughs, the intentions(s) that you have for the story may be lost."
Brannon walks a fine line between jokes and social commentary. So much comedy is used just as a tool to make audiences forget their worries that not enough time is spent on the political or social side of things. "I think, for most comedians, we want to create works that have a purpose," says Brannon. "However, we have to be reminded from time to time that our primary job is to entertain, and people look to us for a break from life. So finding a balance between the two, rather than leaning too much toward either one, is very important. For example, I have material about spiders, slugs, fireflies, and plants, but the meaning behind those jokes have nothing to do with the surface subjects. My hope is that people see the jokes as entertaining, while noticing the social commentary underneath, as well."
When I asked Brannon what he hoped people took away from his show, his answer was perfect: "I would hope that people take away their underwear in their hands, because they wet them while laughing so hard! Honestly, I would hope that people take away a newfound respect for comedy and what we do as comedians. I wish that more people would view comedians as the artists they are. The work that is put in by professional comedians to make the performance seem "effortless" is truly extensive. Taking ideas/stories, and constructing them in a way to make a room full of strangers commit an involuntary act (true laughter) requires the same level of experimentation/trial & error as scientists employ sometimes. So when a comedian is quality, and asks to be compensated for their work, I'd like people to understand the work involved and see us as more than just jesters."
Nathan Brannon & Lance Edward
Bend Comedy Presents
Friday, Dec. 2, 8pm
Seven Nightclub, 1033 NW Bond St., Bend