Comedy needs another single, straight white male stand-up like New York City needs more bed bugs. Nick Flanagan disputes this notion as well other comedic standards on his new album, Wiped Privilege. Flanagan is a white male with a raspy voice delivering more than just puns to create laughs. Prior to being a comic, he was a frontman for a punk band, and the subversive attitude has definitely seeped into his one man routine.
He thanks the audience a couple times between jokes at the top of the set and describes them as “some of the sickest people in the world.” He characterizes himself as being “a well known edgemaster,” someone who is going to push the line. The sarcasm is obvious, and his fans are into it. At first, he does not stray too far the standard. The comic roasts himself about sweating, a common topic for many comics. The sweat bits are funny zingers. Flanagan switches gears into riffing about open mics. Given his flair for irony, this is a warm-up to something a bit more meta. It’s likely most of the audience do not frequent open mics the way a budding stand-up comedian does, and his critical nature of them creates a lift-the-curtain sort of act.
This is the very idea of punk: to rebel and to reveal. Flanagan’s satire is not lost. He pokes fun at being the another white male comedian. Comedy is completely oversaturated by this archetype, and the acknowledgment of this is refreshing. Calling attention to this becomes another rhetorical uncloaking. His act becomes a comment on humor itself. He claims to be known as a one liner comic, but the depth of his jokes prove to be more than that. His body image is affected by “3D billboards.” He likens alcohol to classism. He blurs Maroon Five with the Jackson Five. He pretends to recite a Winston Churchill quote. His style has an anarchy feel to it. The concepts are goofy, and he gifts himself the freedom to be inventive.
He does resort to some silly, groan worthy jokes. What starts as a cute goth bit morphs into something much creepier. He defines the phrase “java junkie” as darker sort of addict than predicted. He gloats about being funnier than most musicians. These set-ups are followed with punches of shock and absurdity. Flanagan is very much using craft to create the humor.
This is his value to comedy. While he may physically embody some unfavorable attributes, Flanagan is clearing putting the work to write punchlines and take risks. Wiped Privilege is not an average album. It is challenging and interesting. This is what stand-up needs.