If his smart and snide 2011 release This Has to Be Funny was a Spalding Gray-like monologue that bordered on being a one-man show, Marc Maron's smart and surly Thinky Pain is built more like a traditional comedy set, even if it uses the platform for its own creative purposes. The touchstone for the style is right up front with "Bill Hicks Was a Poet" giving away the name of the album's biggest influence, but Hicks is also just a jumping-off point, as the self-loathing, self-promoting, and wisdom that's somewhere between stoner logic and Slavoj Zizek all scream "Maron! Maron! Maron!" The set feels free-form and cutting-edge and yet old-school jokes that smack of Henny Youngman are welcome ("My dad was a doctor so I grew up a hypochondriac. How else are you going to get attention?") while topics like experiencing a midlife crisis ("I bought a turntable and a tube amp"), morning zoo radio staffs ("There's always a main guy, a laughing guy, and a baffled and shocked woman"), and vegans ("I get it, you have an ideological eating disorder") draw both unconventional thoughts and traditional, sharp punchlines. There's a bit about trying to "get" Captain Beefheart that should thrill hipsters of all generations, and while all of this skillful juggling of the edgy and the comfortable might sound like his breakthrough moment, Thinky Pain is a bit too loose to recommend fully to the Marc Maron newcomer. Check This Has to Be Funny for a set that's more "composed," but they certainly could have called this one "This Has to Be Funny Too" and gotten away with it.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2