Adam Cayton-Holland, ‘I Don’t Know If I Happy’ (review)
Adam Cayton-Holland makes his grand re-entrance into the recorded stand-up world with I Don’t Know If I Happy. This is Cayton-Holland’s second album since his first attempt, Dick Jokes for Artists (which is apparently now a DVD).
Is this Colorado native a raging comedic success? He is not; he talks about that. “All the best comics have catch phrases,” he says. “Larry the Cable Guy – what’s he got? ‘Git ‘r’ Done.’ Dane Cook – what’s he got? ‘Blahdity-fucking-blah-blah-fucking-blah-blah-blah-blah!’ Selling out stadiums.” If catch phrases are truly the golden tickets to the comedy fame factory, then Cayton-Holland’s own catch phrase could very well…alright, well, anyone who can sell 20,000 coffee thermoses with “Suck Ya Own Dick” written on them is probably more than just a marketing genius.
I Don’t Know If I Happy’s saving grace is Cayton-Holland’s penchant for the absurd. Some bits are harmless non-sequiturs: here and there a comment about the fact that no one ever thinks to bring cinnamon rolls to a gun fight (instead of a knife), or a random dropping of lyrics from a favorite rap song (I will not be able to listen to another wedding toast without playing ‘Forgot about Dre’ in my head). Others bits seem primarily meant to confuse his audience for his own enjoyment… for instance, he leads off the album by speaking fluent Spanish, and then characterizes the attempt as an “interesting choice”. One bit later, he muses over how allowing a Comanche Indian to walk the crowd would make his performance seem “okay.”
However, if you are looking for hearty guffaws, you will probably not find them in this album. Cayton-Holland is clearly a representative of the “pain = comedy” camp, which is most heavily apparent in a joke about molesting his childhood self in order to make his comedy better. Cayton-Holland can even be caustically derisive, re-telling a harassing (but funny) e-mail argument with a museum curator over a taxidermied woodpecker, and laying into a heckler who asks him what he’s going to name his recording. While this album overall is a mix of observational, self-referential, and absurdist humor, it tends to lean heavily on the self-referential without conveying a sense of celebration in it.
This all said, if you have not put Adam Cayton-Holland on your map yet, do so now. I Don’t Know If I Happy is a strong, candid opus – and full of vivid descriptions that are hilarious in and of themselves. In fact, you will find yourself laughing purely for the honesty in Cayton-Holland’s perspective. It is now available on iTunes and here.