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Album review: Josh Lathe – That Never Fit

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Josh Lathe is awkward, but it’s all fuel for the Oklahoma comic’s stand-up routine.

Lathe opens his new live album, That Never Fit, with a healthy dose of self-deprecation that pays off in spades later on.

“I’m terrible with women,” he admits. “I get kinda nervous … ’cause I know what I look like. We went over it earlier.”

His stand-up has a distinctly college flavor, his topics ranging from awkward sexual encounters to his peers’ overuse of the word gay. His work is bound to resonate particularly well with 20-somethings, who always appreciate a well-placed Pokémon reference. (I know I did.) Lathe is also wont to burst into incredulous shouts mid-story, adding to the ridiculousness of his various tales.

The vignette that inspires the name of his album begins with a simple phrase: “I ordered a jacket online, and I shouldn’t have done it.” What should have been a routine visit to the tailor to alter an ill-fitting — but very cool-looking — jacket ends with a demoralizing account of Lathe being ridiculed by the shop owners, an account that he frequently interrupts with a series of world-weary sighs.

Lathe is at his best when he’s at his most observational, commentating on the ample amount of absurdity in his life. In his set, he muses on the nature of Oklahoma’s origins, cat behavior and his awful roommates’ penchant for lending their pot paraphernalia bizarre nicknames. (Their bong is named Snorlax and their grinder is Super Shredder.) All these vignettes require Lathe to perform goofy, thoroughly enjoyable impressions. (As a cat owner, I can confirm that his persistent feed-me-at-3 a.m. meowing is incredibly spot-on.) From the cat vignette also comes what I think is the best simile of the set, in which he likens a cat trying to open a door to the T-1000 from Terminator 2.

Some of his material can occasionally come across as more awkward than hilarious. In his segment on dating difficulties, Lathe admits to saying offensive things at random, describing his mouth as having “R-rated Asperger’s.” This is evident in some weaker moments, when what seems to be random observation turns uncomfortable. However, Lathe manages to offset even the most cringeworthy moments of his set with a well-timed Lord of the Rings reference.

Through November, all profits from Lathe’s album sales will be donated to the Epilepsy Foundation of America as a thanks to Sofia Esteve, who provided the album’s cover art. Appropriately enough, That Never Fit includes a segment about this neurological disorder.

When one of his roommates offers a decidedly unhelpful take on how to handle an encounter with someone having an epileptic seizure, Lathe sums up the disorder pretty well: “It’s when your brain goes, ‘Uhhh, fuck it!’ and hard-resets.” Not a fun time for anyone, to be sure.

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