Recording information: Parlor Live Comedy Club, Bellevue, WA (04/20/2012).
Photographer: Robyn Swank .
Stoner hero and standup comedian Doug Benson tries to record a live album every April 20 -- otherwise known as 4-20, the stoner's holiday -- but there was something particularly special about 2012, something "experimental." Featuring the same basic set, done twice across its two discs, the experimental bit of Smug Life means the first disc is delivered "Uncooked" (sober) and the other is delivered "Cooked" (stoned). At local comedy clubs across America, the early show to late show transition usually goes tipsy show to much drunker show, so Benson's idea is more "blazing" than "blazing a trail," and yet he still puts a unique spin on it, crafting an act that lends itself to this experiment. The first disc's intro is a wonder to behold as Benson explains his idea and draws plenty of disgust from the crowd, who absolutely hate the idea of "Mr. Super High Me" going straight. An anxiety-filled apology for the tough, hoodie album cover -- taken pre-recording and before the Trayvon Martin shooting -- helps the pro-toker come off as a likeable fellow, and the whole "reading the audience's tweets" routine reappears and it's as charming as ever with half his fans offering perfect set-ups, and the other half coming off as Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. There are some truly weird jokes in the middle that are wicked during the first set and wild during the second, but it's the casual, long monologue at the end that takes the biggest THC-hit with "The Tweet Science" sounding like it was performed on Comedy Central, and "Tweet It Out" sounding like it was performed on Jupiter. Plenty of tweet-talk, two tons of weed talk, and everything put out there twice means Smug Life is a double scoop of acquired taste from the arguably One Toke Pony, but Benson continues to mess with weed humor in ways Cheech & Chong never tried, meaning this generation of couch-locked potatoes has it pretty darn good. ~ David Jeffries