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Thursday
Jul152010

JFL Star Paul Thomas Rips Shit Up, Solo

By: Robert Buscemi

Paul Thomas packs more punch into "Comedogenic" than a purple punch-pack, whatever that is. He machine-guns tight, funny solo pieces with enough fire to broast a Cornish game hen. He's aggressive and unflagging, blazing through a dozen brilliant scenes (give or take--he's constantly noodling with the show), including...

1) A bus-stop kid rapping along to his iPod, oblivious to his decibel-level, mutter-singing a complex, original, hilarious rhyme about women and Jesus.

2) An orchestra student sneaking in texts to his geeky friends when his instrument -- a French horn that Thomas plays live on stage -- isn't specifically needed.

3) A disabled actor playing Paul Thomas, whose palsy and slur are dead-on, even as Thomas mocks himself for the intellectual pretension of playing himself playing himself.

4) A guy at a party with the greatest verbal tick you've ever heard, ineptly chatting up a girl who's clearly racist.

He also screens the hilarious new music video "Smacking Your Gum."

He debuted the show at the Second City's Donny's Skybox in 2008, took it to the New York International Fringe in 2009, then I saw it in LA at the first annual Fringe Fest a couple of weeks ago. Chicago's lucky right now -- Thomas excerpts it Thursdays at Chicago's iO's Del Close Theater through August 12th on a bill with Chicago stars Jim Fath, Jet Eveleth, and Paul Brittain.

And Thomas is ambitious as hell, so look for it on the coasts soon.

As a performer, Thomas has of course been around the block, winning "Best Sketch Group" as half of The Defiant Thomas Brothers at HBO’s 2005 US Comedy Arts Festival, performing solo pieces last year in the inaugural Just for Laughs Chicago, and getting named to Comedy.com’s Top 20 stand-ups in Chicago.

He also performs with the fantastic "post-grunge" acoustic comedy rock band Lola Balatro, which released its debut album last year with songs like "I Got 2 Black Friends," "Rock Star," and "Questionable Beef," (which won the audience award at the Seattle Sketchfest).

A quick story about this weirdly well-produced, to-my-mind murderously funny video for Thomas's "Epic Love Song." For the shoot, Thomas drove like half the people you see in the video (me included) in a big rented van out to a farm two freaking hours from Chicago on the rainiest Sunday in Illinois history. At one point in the 14-hour day, we hauled that GD piano through deep mud out onto planks in a field.

So we're tired and wet when we finally pile in the van to head home, and I say "You know what the funniest word ever is? 'Girth.'"

For two solid hours, we inserted "girth" into every phrase, book title, movie title, proper name you can imagine: Girth Brooks, Girth Vader, The Girth Also Rises, Girth on the Nile. WE DID NOT STOP. The two that hit the hardest: early on, Thomas says "Bond. JAMES Girth." Then when we were almost home, Mike Bridenstine says: "E=MC girth." I almost peed my pants.

Anyhow, go see "Comedogenic." It's amazing. No shit.

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Reader Comments (1)

Don't take my word for it -- check what veteran comedy journalist Steve Heisler said recently in the Chicago Reader ... http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/jim-paul-jet-paul/Event?oid=2093506.

July 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Buscemi

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