Review Summary: Stephen Lynch is adored by a good amount of people and reviled by...well, no one, as his voice is as sweet as a childs. Too bad it spits venom enough to kill 2 right wing christians.
To be perfectly frank, the comedy scene in America sucks. It’s a completely flash-in-the-pan popularity contest when it comes to being successful. Sure, comedians who have been around for ten or twenty years and are going on moderately well like Rich Vos, Jim Norton, Greg Giraldo and Ben Baily may make a good living touring America and performing in their local clubs, but gimmick comedians like Larry the Cable Guy, Nick Caliendo, and Carlos Mencia recycle the same material every set and end up with shows on Comedy Central and movie deals. Is there no justice in the comedy world? Sure, sometimes a deserving comedian comedian will get his break (and then get overexposed and essentially ruin his career, a la Dane Cook), and there are a few rising comedians who seem to breaking the underground without sacrificing integrity (Daniel Tosh, Steve Byrne), but for the most part terrible comedians seem to be what America wants.
Enter Stephen Lynch. Essentially a gimmick comedian (he uses songs to convey all of his extremely degenerate and “un-PC” material), he got very popular very quickly riding on the “sexy male comedian” wave a few years back thanks to his Comedy Central Presents special. Being one of the most viewed of the year (and the second best special Comedy Central had aired, according to fans), Stephen Lynch was catapulted from cult fame and success to mainstream attention. However, he never capitalized on it, and didn’t release new material for two years, enough time for America’s interest in him to fade to the point where he made only the slightest of splashes outside the comedy community.
When you look back on Lynch’s current discography, you notice he only has one studio album…A Little bit Special
. The first rationale for this would be “Well, obviously comedy doesn’t lend itself very well to a studio environment. Besides, people need the laugh breaks to know when a joke happened as no one really pays attention to comedy albums.” Thus, the effect A Little Bit Special
has, even compared to Lynch’s latter live releases, is surprising. It’s possibly one of the funniest studio recordings of all time, and assuredly one of the most innocently depraved pieces of art ever put to plastic. That is, if you can take jokes about fu
cking corpses and shooting major celebrities in the head who refuse to return your affections.
As a musician, the most simple and effective comparison that can be made is to Jack Johnson. Using an acoustic (and on select tracks a backing bass), Lynch writes straightforward yet engaging chord progressions and riffs, never going out of a relatively simple safe zone. He isn’t a virtuoso by any means, and he really doesn’t have to be, but the utilization of extremely innocuous and tender guitar lines (“Bitch” features an oft used love song chord progression) lends an extra air of impact to Lynch’s comedy and general music style that would otherwise be lacking if he were to just do the material straight up.
Dueling with said guitar playing is Lynch’s voice, which is most often described as “angelic.” Indeed, he has one of the sweetest and powerful singing voices this side of Morrissey. Except diametrically opposed to that British ninny. Continuing on, he has effectively mastered the art of pop singing; he has a touching soft voice, a passionate style of repeating lyrics, and then an angry and sardonic yell. It’s showcased in no better place than “A Month Dead,” which goes from the softest ballads on the album to a song of intense yearning for his dead lover. That he keeps propped in a chair in his room.
Truly, while all that works out for the better, the true magic in this album lies in Lynch’s decadent lyrics. There is no “serious” song on the album, which is no surprise considering it is a comedy album. However, where as other musical comedians rely too often on the same subject matter (mostly violent acts and the sort), Lynch goes on a large variety of topics. Opener “Lullaby” is a spin on bedtime lullabies, with Lynch singing to his daughter why her mother isn’t around anymore. Touching isn’t it? An excerpt from the emotionally draining chorus on why mommy wont come back;
”But daddy plays poker and drinks lots of beer
then he wants sex that involves mommy's rear
daddy has sores on his naughty parts oozing with pus
I think thats why mommy left us”
Alright, maybe Lynch isn’t the nicest guy on the block, but while he may be a terrible parent, at least he has a flourishing love life, right? A good portion of the album is made detailing Lynch’s twisted outtake on love, most notably with striking ballad “R.D.C (Opie’s Lament)”, in which he outlines his loathing love for a celebrity.
“Rae Dawn Chong, you only had to hear my song.
I even bought your dad a bong.
And all you had to do was love me.
I gave you every chance to love me.
You stupid bitch, you should have loved me too…”
See the eloquence? Lynch gets his point across beautifully in the song as a whole; without resorting to wild metaphors and extremely vivid imagery, he merely tells the story of how that bitch wouldn’t return his phone calls, and why she had to be shot in the head. He does so with a poetic elegance close to that of Sir Bill Hicks. As Lynch reminisces about hermaphrodite lovers, dead sex slaves, and falling for your best friend, the most touching of these is a song simply entitled “Bitch.”
“Had to see you one last time
there’s something on my mind
how do I say what needs to be said?
the words are hard to find
how about bitch give me my money
I want my money and I want it fast
hey, bitch give me my money
else i'm bout to take it out your ass
That’s a lot of talking about lyrics, but the genius of the album revolves around such. Outside of all those lighthearted love songs, Lynch also writes about the pleasures a Gerbil can bring (to your anus), only having one testicle, retarded best friends, the death of innocence (“Jim Henson’s Dead,” while the only song not humorous on the record, is also the most poignant and true), and, most importantly, killing kittens. In fact, that last song “Kill a Kitten” (which is stuck in “Walken III”) is the most energetic and fun on the album, and a sarcastic attack on PETA and such extreme animal rights organizations. Accompanied by a light piano melody, the song is extremely brutal, yet fun and impossibly catchy. When Lynch describes the multitude of ways you can off a kitten, well, it should speak for itself:
”Flush it down the can, hit it with your van,
Drown it in a lake, bake a kitty cake
Throw it at a train, make it snort cocaine
Stick some TNT up its cat booty
Do what you must do, as long as you...
Kill a kitten”
In the end, A Little Bit Special
ends up being a landmark comedy album. Studio albums were never even a thought by true comedians, yet Lynch took his strong musical qualities and combined them with lyrics so out there and hilarious that the studio environment and production only heightens the sensationalism of it all. It’s absolutely a comedy classic, and the strongest songs Lynch has ever produced. It’s either outrageously funny, hauntingly beautiful and catching, or so depraved that you can’t help but say “Oh that’s one crazy white boy.” That is, if you’re a black woman stereotype.