Denis Leary

No Cure for Cancer

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Boston-born comedian and actor Denis Leary released his first standup comedy album No Cure for Cancer in 1993. The chain-smoking, explosive Leary first gained notoriety with MTV commercials, but he certainly benefited from the popularity of Sam Kinison and Andrew Dice Clay in the late 1980s and early 1990s. No Cure for Cancer is wildly uneven. About 35 minutes of standup are sandwiched between four novelty songs. The best one, "Asshole," is a funny diatribe set to acoustic rhythm guitar. It achieved some success in a censored form, which robbed it of impact. Leary's barbed tongue tackles topics like drugs, smoking, meat, rock stars, death, and combinations thereof. Parts of the standup monologue don't work, and occasionally the deadly silence of the audience proves it. He starts rolling when he talks about sex, drugs, and music as they related to 1970s culture. In "Rehab," Leary complains about people blaming dysfunctional families for life's disappointments. In a poignant rebuttal, he argues that happiness comes in small doses: a cigarette, a chocolate-chip cookie, or a five-second orgasm. "More Drugs" is clearly the best bit. He laments the deaths of stellar musicians and complains about the superhuman durability of lesser talents. No Cure for Cancer's best line?: "Stevie Ray Vaughan is dead and we can't get Jon Bon Jovi on a helicopter." Ouch! Others singled out for praise or ridicule include John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Motley Crue, Barry Manilow, the Bee Gees, Andy Gibb, Judas Priest, Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, the Black Crowes, the Doors, R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Elvis Presley, and Keith Richards. Leary gleefully punctures political correctness by praising smoking and wishing for throat cancer and a voice box on "Smoke" and honoring war-mongering, carnivorous men on "Meat."

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