Recording information: Helium Comedy Club, Portland, OR.
Photographer: Skip Hopkins.
Dan Cummins' third album of new material finds the acerbic comedian chronicling his many, many annoyances. For Hear This! he deadpans his way through observational humor furiously fast, with razor-sharp delivery. While it's hard to defend a man who wishes death upon the smoothie guy and admits that it's sometimes difficult to resist the urge to kick toddlers, this Portland set at the Helium Comedy Club shows Cummins tightening his craft of being a venomous smart-ass, and builds on the strengths of his debut Comedy Central album. When he dissects the events of his day-to-day, he takes on Dane Cook's hyperactive way of breaking down every detail, and Bill Burr's rage for anybody bothersome. Sometimes his hatred is so uncontrollable that it worries him. He understands that he shouldn't be mad at someone for merely smoking a pipe (too showy), but he just can't help himself. He singles out hipsters in particular: "Hells Angels motorcycle club vest, over the My Little Pony T-shirt, plaid pajama pants, Italian leather yachting shoes...You know what would really top off that ensemble? You bouncing off the windshield of a truck." He calms a bit toward the end of the set, when he goes into parenting. The title track of the CD comes from his son, who opens with a disarming "Hear this!" before proclaiming "Hear this! Tiny people can't eat tiny ants" and "Hear this! I sure hope when I grow up I can be a dwarf; that way I can still crawl through logs." Cummins' bafflement about this prophet-like six-year-old and his thuggish baby sister is hilarious and a nice break from all the mean-spirited jabs at his frustrations, as funny as they often are. ~ Jason Lymangrover