Doug Benson is best known as a pot comic, thanks in part to his film Super High Me, and the fact that he frequently talks about smoking the marijuana in his act. The fact that he recorded his latest album, Hypocritical Oaf on April 20th, otherwise know to the more intoxicated among us as 4|20, just further serves to certify his stoner credentials. He's been all over TV, including Comedy Central Presents and Last Comic Standing, as well as hosting his own popular podcast, Doug Loves Movies. He also enjoys McDonalds. A lot.
As stated before, this album was recorded on 4/20 (2010) in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Acme Comedy Co., and it's his third disc in three years, marking him as one of the more productive potheads out there. Whereas most comics have a thing they do or style they perfect, Benson is a more liquid comic, floating through ideas without much in the way of structure or rhythm. This stream of (un)consciousness is a bit weird at first, but it becomes utterly charming, like you're hanging with a friend and just talking about stuff (or more to the point listening to him talk about stuff. While you know he's going to hit his holy trinity of pot, McDonald's and the internet, he'll take trips to airplane land and AIDSville, and a short stopover in Tim Gunn Town.
It's actually stunning to hear him move from a solid joke about Vegas, betting and prostitution to a bit about dumb stuff you do while high, only to get sidetracked by saying the word "do" twice in a row. If this silliness is just a scripted part of his act, he's an incredibly accomplished performer, because it comes off as utterly real. It's the little throwaway notes that really help shape his set, because they sell his image as a goofy, casual dude. When he accidentally (?) refers to the area as Wisconsin, only to make, in his words, a "smooth-ass save," it seems a bit too sharp for someone with senses supposedly dulled by weed, but again, he just makes it work.
While jumping all over the place, with jokes about shorting words, getting pretzels on a place and the benefit of TV marathons to pot smokers, his relaxed enthusiasm is a bit infectious. When he starts talking about performing for an audience made up of a large group of mentally handicapped people, it got the biggest laugh out of me of the whole disc. It's not what he says really (though the line "Let me at them" is hysterical.) He just delivers his jokes so smoothly and enjoyably. He also manages to craft a few longer-form bits, including his usual McDonald's jokes (including the magic time known as the Breakfast Window), a reading of some of his popular tweets and a run on getting a medical marijuana license, but two in particular stand out.
One, tied to his weak imitations, is easily the best stand-up take on Silence of the Lambs that I've heard. Perhaps it's because I find Buffalo Bill's voice to be hysterical after years of hearing Opie and Anthony joke about it, but Benson's advice for dealing with him is really quite funny. The other runs the risk of not working, because it's something of a visual joke, but the premise is enough to carry it, as he talks about his inability to focus and the detrimental effect that had on him when he had a sign-language interpreter on stage once. Watching her use her hands, he decides there's a word he wants to see signed. It's such a natural idea and his view of it is so amusing that you can't help but laugh, no matter how ridiculous it is.
If anything here completely speaks to his role as a pot comic, it's the way he ends the disc. After opening it up for the audience to request a final joke (which results in calls for both the tried and true and the truly bizarre) he kind of just ends the show after making a half-hearted joke about Carlos Mencia and Jay Leno, just sort of wandering away. Perhaps he saw something good on a nearby TV, but it's certainly the opposite of the stand-up tradition of ending on a high note. He does come back for an amusing trio of jokes as a hidden track, but it's funny mainly for the way he does it, again showing he's a strong performer with OK material.
2) Peanut Lady
3) The Track with the Stupid Fart Joke
4) Breakfast Window
5) Time to Go Fred Travalena on Your Asses
6) Weak Back Problems
7) Pot the Vote
8) Sitting There In Your Own Filth
9) Booty/Weedy Text
10) Follow Me
11) To Trunk to Dweet
12) Big Finish
The audio is clean and clear, allowing you to hear Benson without any issues, while capturing the audience's reaction well also. It's just a standard comedy CD mix, keeping the channels balanced, and as such, it does a good job.
Like many Comedy Central albums, this one comes packed with a bonus DVD, in this case bringing forth two episodes of Comedy Central Presents featuring Benson. He's not my favorite stand-up comic, and these aren't my favorite episodes of CCP, but he's got this goofy charm that makes him very easy to watch. Some of the material is repeated from the CD (it was in these specials first) including his overwhelming enjoyment of McDonald's, his imitations and, of course, his pot comedy. Seeing him does add a bit to his act in places, like his demonstration of his reaction to getting good cards during blackjack. If you enjoy him, getting these shows is a definite plus.
The Bottom Line
I don't think Doug Benson will ever be on my list (he's not speaking on my wavelength) but I can't say he didn't make me chuckle a few times, more for his delivery and stage persona, rather than his material. I think he's definitely got an audience and that audience probably enjoys seeing him...on weed. For them, this is going to be a fun CD with enough bonus content to make it well worth a purchase.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.