Fergus Falls, Minnesota-based comedian Chad Daniels had a pretty super Tuesday this past week. He released his second CD, “You’re the Best” (Stand Up! Records), appeared on Conan, and released a free, professionally shot, and uncensored one-hour special (“As Is”) via the venerable stand-up news & views site, Laughspin.com. Daniels is a seasoned comic and a captivating live performer. He’s had a Comedy Central Presents special, he’s appeared at prestigious festivals, on The Late Late Show, and was one of the select few comedians to be on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. So, to all outward appearances, Chad Daniels isn’t someone who has to give it away for free. Massively popular comics like Louis C.K., Jim Gaffigan, and Aziz Ansari have rejiggered the model of heretofore-televised specials and DVD distribution by nixing middlemen with the fan/artist win-win of direct online sales, and “As Is” is an exciting gatekeeper end run extrapolation that allows Daniels to (re)introduce his work to untold English-understanding Earthlings. Daniels recently told Patrick Strait of Minneapolis’ City Pages that “… My goal is to just get my stuff in front of more people, and hopefully use the special as a way to get some more attention on the album… by putting it online instead of cable everyone has access to it, which is what I really wanted.” Comedy Moontower hopes the free release of “As Is” proves to be a financially sustainable enterprise not just because Chad Daniels is worthy of greater attention, he is, but the prospect of enticing other artists to follow suit and also potentially raising the cachet of the still-relatively niche comedy “album” is just such a rousing possibility.
Recorded in one take at Acme Comedy in Minneapolis, “As Is” already stands as a harbinger of the death knell for de facto language censorship, but (also evidenced on “You’re the Best”) Daniels use of shock imbues his act with a somewhat niggling unevenness. A performer who walks the edge is inherently going to cross it with explicitness, button pushing, taboos, and/or audience comfort level— and Daniels is indeed “edgy.” My calculus is that a joke or a bit’s cleverness needs to trump its crassness but my opinion also comes from the totality of payoffs from this nexus. On Track 8, “Environmental Science,” which some could regard as needlessly misogynistic (or outrageously hilarious, or both), Daniels addresses this very juncture by stating that “a skill that a good comedy crowd has to have” is the ability to “individualize jokes.” He adds, “If you didn’t like that joke, I get it. Put it in the `I don’t like it pile’ and let’s move on. I don’t want that to ruin the rest of the show for you. That’s the same with life. If you get cut off on the way to work and you’re still mad when you’re cooking dinner, maybe you’re an asshole.” Or maybe Daniels isn’t your cup of tea. Continue reading