Review: Gary Gulman “No Can Defend”
Stand up and pay attention because Gary Gulman is about to break it down. No Can Defend is the comedian’s second release, first for Comedy Central Records and from the start; the comedian sets the tone – slightly neurotic, cautious but damn is it funny. Gulman is no newbie to the stand-up scene he’s been doing his thing for a long time and No Can Defend is the perfect encapsulation of all that is Gary Gulman.
He’s loved for the underlying neurotic tones to his act but given his childhood stories, it’s easy to see where they come from. Whether his Jewish upbringing (“they’ve found themselves in a pickle or two”) or his desire to visit 8th grade Gary and correct his views on the importance of typing; he’s perfectly in touch with his neuroses and he’s become a great comedian because of it.
Gulman’s style lies somewhere between Jerry Seinfeld and Woody Allen, let’s call it observational-neurotic. It’s applied well to No Can Defend’s which comes off as a roll down Generation X memory lane. Gulman applies hyper-vigilance and skepticism while deconstructing (of all things) the Discman, fonts, MC Hammer, The Karate Kid movies and Vanilla Ice (he never did have the acting career as the Ice’s Cube and T). However, Gulman is too smart to just tell topical, childhood inducing jokes. He’s whip smart with his deconstruction of said topics. Taking unpopular opinions like Daniel from The Karate Kid really did deserve to get his ass kicked because he was a provoker. Or that Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz was being a bitch by singling out her best friends in front of other friends.
One Gulman characteristic I admire most is the lack of malice in his act. One of the easiest things a comedian can do on stage is go on the attack, whether it be politics or people, there’s often low hanging fruit available for the laugh. Gulman takes the more difficult route with no anger or hatred toward a topic. Sure he gets fired up about subjects but it’s not venomous, rather you can feel the “I can’t believe this!” tinge to the joke. Probably the angriest Gulman gets on the album is when he’s taking shots at Blockbuster. While he takes the piss out of the companies exorbitant late fees and “criminally loose definition of ‘New Releases’” you still can tell he’s smiling as he’s doing so. He’s not mean, just delivering fully realized jokes that consistently please. You like Gary Gulman, you root for him and it allows you to like him even as he’s ripping something apart. Don’t make the mistake; even though he’s nice about it, Gary Gulman is a total killer. A routine that only comes from too many hours of stage time.
Gulman named No Can Defend after a quote from Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid. The idea behind the statement is there’s a move that can’t be defended when done correctly. Though it’s something Gulman picks apart in hilarious detail as to why Mr. Miyagi’s thinking is wrong; him giving this album the moniker leads me to believe it’s a subtle nod that he might just have a nearly bulletproof album. Whether a deliberate move or not, Gary Gulman released a top-notch comedy album that should not be missed by anyone who is a fan of laughing.