by Ryan Meehan
On Tuesday, April 30th Comedy Central record will release “Al Madrigal: Why is the Rabbit Crying?”, an extended CD/DVD combo package. Friday, April 26th the one-hour standup special will premiere on CC at 11 PM EST/10 PM CST. Madrigal is probably best known for his work as a correspondent on “The Daily Show” outside of the comedy club scene. He grew up in the Inner Sunset District of San Francisco alongside comics Margaret Cho and Mike Pritchard.
Al is of Latino descent, but it’s not as noticeable as some other Hispanic comedians such as George Lopez or Gabriel Iglesias. The album begins with Madrigal telling a story about his neighborhood in Los Angeles and some of the “cholos” that live in that particular area. To me it sounds like he has the accent down pat when he needs to do an impression, but his speaking voice is about as Non-Latino as it can get. He transitions nicely into a story about a cholo soccer dad that coached in his son’s soccer league. It’s where the name of the record originates, as “Why is the Rabbit Crying?” is a reference to Hispanic tattoo culture. I was glad that this was explained early on in the program because I had thought that this was a very bizarre name for a full length special. Next there’s a great bit about the process of being offered a “happy ending” at a Thai massage parlor that I enjoyed thoroughly and has an awesome punchline.
This is going to sound like a very abbreviated review of the remainder of the record, but the rest of the CD is average at best. The material consists of a lot of parenting stories and Madrigal’s discussions of Latino heritage and the tendencies that surround it. There is a bit that I do like towards the end where he tells the story of when his college roommate’s nanny ate some chocolate candies that contained psychedelic mushrooms, but even that seems like it is much longer than it needs to be. Also as a comic, you have to really make sure that the last bit on a full length album is killer and his closer fell a bit short.
The Bonus features on the DVD that contains the live performance include a field special from “The Daily Show” as well as Madrigal’s appearance on the network’s now defunct program “Shorties Watchin’ Shorties”. I was never a real big fan of SWS, but the correspondence piece about Tuscon’s Mexican-American studies ban is high quality and full of good stuff.
As a comedy fan who is not a parent, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I find it confusing to hear a bunch of parenting material that I can’t relate to. I guess it seems strange to me that people with children would go out to a comedy show and want to hear about the unfortunate things going on at home that they are specifically trying to escape from. (Especially when you consider the additional money is costs to hire a babysitter) But as the argument goes, I’m not a parent so I wouldn’t understand. There are a select few who can really do a good job with this – Louis CK and Chris Rock are perfect examples. But if you look at why those comedians are successful, it’s because they use that material in moderation.
Madrgial is a storyteller above all else and that’s what this disc highlights. It’s a lot of harsh takes on some of the experiences that he’s had with his family, but it is still full of family stuff at heart. This is by no means a ten as far as standup discs go – It does have its good moments but lacks a few huge punchlines that could really take it to the next level. Nonetheless, it’s decent but it’s nothing that will end up on a “best of” list come the end of the year. Now, keep in mind that this may be due to the fact that I can’t relate to it for two main reasons: I don’t have children and I have very minimal understanding of Hispanic culture. I’m sure Madrigal’s target market will like this album, but it didn’t strike me as being a legendary performance. I thought he spent a lot of time explaining pretty standard observational things about raising a family and its quirks as opposed to really making sure this record was jam packed with laughs.
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