Ryan Drake is fearless.
A sharp tongue, sharper wit and refusal to treat any topic as off limits (he recounts getting banned from a local bar for turning a Jets v. Patriots playoff game into a 9/11 joke) all point to a comedian who couldnt care less about offending anyone or anything.
Its an attitude that almost brought him to blows with a Loony Bin Comedy Club patron in one story shared in his debut comedy album Drinking Games For One Person.
But thats not what makes him fearless.
Instead, its his unguarded discussions of loneliness and failed romances or his closing, no-excuses account of a DUI arrest after Norman Music Festival that demanded his sobriety. Drake applies a Steve Jobs-like attention to detail in crafting a good dick joke (and does, frequently, here), but the biggest laughs come out of the deepest truths. Drinking Games does an exceptional job of slotting zippy non sequiturs next to those vulnerable confessions in a resoundingly accurate look at the life of a 20-something finding his way in urban Oklahoma.
Not that there arent universal experiences shared throughout, but Oklahoma City is the undeniable backdrop to it all. The album is littered with scenes from the city (much the way Louis C.K. flavors his standup with the bustle of life in New York), with nods to the Plaza District, Drunken Fry and even Mardel.
And it brings an authenticity to the nearly hourlong set of material recorded on his birthday. It often plays out like a self-help guide born out of someones worst mistakes, failed sexcapades and drunken blunders. Drake eagerly shares twisted life lessons picked up from Tetris (People who are tall and skinny will never, ever be there for you.) or how a hatred of Eddie Vedder can help you understand racism.
The confidence Drake exudes on stage the album is well-rehearsed and tight but fluid all at once helps you buy into the most outrageous of punch lines. Theres a wink to it all too, the assurance that he is a nice guy even as he delivers the lowest of blows, always taking you where he wants you to go.
Drake is consistently raunchy but rarely cheap, almost making concessions in his voice as he offers the few boilerplate-but-crowd-pleasing jabs at Kobe Bryant, Mary Fallin and Starbucks.
A certain feline-flavored Dr. Phil-ism for oral sex pops up frequently through the set to exceedingly hilarious results, and theres also the best grammar-based menstruation joke ever conceived, straight out of the Mitch Hedberg playbook.
But its the closing narrative of the aforementioned DUI that is especially remarkable. Its here that he stands up on even footing with a Mike Birbiglia or Patton Oswalt. His story moves with excellent pacing, with steady crowd giggles sprinkled into his officer interactions onward to what feels like a conclusion (an ill-fated substitution of Jeff Foxworthy for Michael J. Fox in a hand-job joke made in an attempt to woo the officer). Alas, Drake one-ups himself with the final, gut-busting finisher that finds him taking the worst moment of his life and making it the best of his career.
Find the album on iTunes.
Print headline: Fearless comedy, Ryan Drakes new comedy album is as dirty and hilarious as it is touching in a good way.