Todd Barry

Super Crazy

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Just because he's quiet, irritated, and quirky doesn't mean comedian Todd Barry can't be commanding. On Super Crazy -- and that's an ironic title if there ever were one -- Barry skips his usual slow but sure style of warming up, kicking off the set with the great "Montana, North Dakota, Other Places." It's a typical "playing small towns sucks" routine on one hand, but Barry's a "comedian's comedian" so that means one foot in tradition and one on the edge, like skillfully dropping a "transgendered Scrabble tournament" reference into these hack surroundings. That might be the magic of Barry, offering standard setups and standard surroundings that put the audience at ease, and then mentioning "S&M lawn crews" or "It's Merely a Handjob" -- the latter being a dating service for busy comedians -- in his breathy voice, delivered with a kitten-like cadence, all of it adding up to a comedic killer blow. Bitterness seems out of place in these surroundings, but his distaste for Californians who think they know everything about Mexican food or damn kids who use "Loves me some..." ("I'm an 18-year-old community college student, but I talk like a 90-year-old Chicago blues guitarist") is the reason to sign on to this aw-shucks-then-skewer comedian. Check the hilarious "Gray Shirt Story," which goes from the ridiculous compliments salespeople hand out at the mall ("You know, that's a really good shirt to have around if, you know, a friend calls you up and you wanna get a beer") to reviews on deodorant-themed message boards found on the Internet ("I smell like I walked through a shit tornado") and on to hearing aids made to look like Bluetooth headsets ("Hey Frank, I thought you were deaf but it turns out you're just a jackass") for a six-minute piece that's arguably Barry's masterwork. It's his "Freebird" (Lynyrd Skynyrd) or his "Hot Pockets" (Jim Gaffigan) and considering how everything else flows so well and should be rated B+ or above, it just happens to sit on his best album to date.

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