With its knowing Mort Sahl
-era album title and cover photo, The Absurd Nightclub Comedy of Eugene Mirman
is a deliberate return to the glory days of the standup comedy LP, those records that were hipster totems in the hi-fi days and a constant presence in Goodwill bins since. Mirman
, a Russian-born, Boston-based comedian, isn't a throwback to the comedians of that era, but nor does he really fit in with the politically-charged likes of contemporaries such as David Cross
or Janeane Garofalo; instead, he's sort of the indie rock equivalent of pre-stardom Jerry Seinfeld
or stoner-era George Carlin: his observational humor is mostly born out of his everyday life (one of the funniest routines on the album is "Fleet," detailing his increasing frustrations with a screwed-up credit card account, and his early days as a Russian-Jewish immigrant in Ronald Reagan's America informs much of the material), but he's also a gifted verbal satirist in the Carlin tradition, best shown in the sidesplitting "Shapes for Sale" (slogans for geometric figures in the manner of those odd ad campaigns for beef or dairy foods, such as "Square: The Other Rectangle" or "Triangle: Hot Three-Way Action!") or a brief bit on challenging people who parrot made-up statistics. Mirman's a verbal comedian whose material doesn't lose much when you can't see him, making him a natural for the unfortunately largely moribund comedy album genre.