The city of Chicago has been synonymous with comedy for quite sometime now. Being the birth place of the famous, and sometimes infamous, Second City Improv troupe, Chicago has always been an exit on the road of improvisation.
However, in recent years a new wave of stand-up comedy has emerged bringing some phenominal names to our attention. Matt Braunger is such a comic and his new hour long album Shovel Fighter! only reinforces the fact that Chicago continues to be a comedy landmark.
It’s easily understandable to see why Braunger is such a comedy force to be reckoned with. He, alongside other noteworthy Chicago comics such as Pete Holmes, Hannibal Burress, John Mulany and Kyle Kinane have in their own way ushered in a new style of stand-up comedy. Well perhaps not ushered in, rather embraced this idea of awkward surrealism.
Braunger is the perfect embodiment of this. Towards the opening of his new album his material is funny because it’s relateable. His bits concerning throwing up while drinking and strip clubs are funny because the resonate with the listener. We find it funny because we can somehow connect to our own lives. But while the material may seem generic its approached by Braunger in a way that is orginal and makes us laugh not only through relatability, but through a sense of ridiculousness as well. As the album continues it gets more abstract and thus more hilarious.
This is why I enjoyed the album as much as I did. Most stand-up comedians will stick to a certain arc of realism in their act. If it’s absurd it will start and end absurd. If it’s observational it will start and end observational. But Braunger seamlessly merges the two. At one point he’s discussing ordering food hung over and the next he’s describing the hardest job he’s ever had was being a Shovel Fighter in the Ukraine. It’s a pattern that can be seen not only in Braungers act, but in many other Chicago comedians as well. And it works.
The entirirty of the album not only works because of the basis of material, but also the way in which Braugner explains his observations, which keeps the audience hooked. He embraces his awkward persona and conveys it in a relentless way so as to make the audience understand where he’s coming from. He tells his material with such passion and conviction that it’s almost impossible to not be entertained from beginning to end.
After his first album Soak Up the Night was so well received I can only hope that Shovel Fighter! finally exposes Braunger to the general population. Especially with the fact that this was his first one-hour Comedy Central special. I hope that Braunger continues to evolve as a performer and gets recognized on a national level.
Check out Matt Braunger on Twitter @Braunger.
About the Author: Born on a mountain top in Tennessee, Greenest state in the land of the free. Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree, Killed him a bear when he was only three. I also like stand up comedy. (OHHH that rhymed!) Also, follow me on twitter @LouMisiano1