It’s been said that “all comedy is subjective.” The exception to that rule is Henry Rollins.
Rollins, the former frontman to the California punk band Black Flag, has spent the majority of his post-music career performing live spoken word and comedy shows across the country—a practice that has produced many hours of interesting, engaging and hilarious material.
With the release of his latest live album, Keep Talking, Pal, produced by Comedy Dynamics, the savage savant Rollins cements his frontman charm and wittiness while re-telling stories from his band days, his love of and for RuPaul, and his theories on how women should rule the world. And while walking down memory lane with this comedic chaperone of sorts, one can’t help but to fall over laughing while listening to his frantically fantastic storytelling and uncanny insights.
Keep Talking, Pal, his first album in nearly a decade, was recorded last year in Portland, Oregon, a town Rollins admits is a home away from home of sorts. And it shows: the audience hangs on his every word and is engaged with his tales, opinions and off-the-cuff remarks. Rollins also does something amazing with his enthusiastic style of performance—he doesn’t talk down or to his audience; he talks with them. Though there is a stage and microphone at the venue—putting him in the proverbial spotlight—listening to the show, one can easily imagine him sitting on a backwards chair in the audience area amongst fans, intimately retelling some of his most memorable and enjoyable experiences from his music days and his private life.
Every minute of Rollins’ new release is packed with either insight, humor, or an awesome amalgam of insightful humor. No breath is wasted, no thought is random: there is no doubt Rollins has crafted this set meticulously and masterfully as every image, metaphor, and simile he conjures bow to his dominant will.
The only criticism one may have with Keep Talking, Pal revolves around its length. By album’s end, you want to hear more. You want Rollins to keep going into the wee hours of the night marveling over meeting Ozzy Osbourne and David Bowie, because it’s hard to believe that those are the only hilarious and thought-provoking experiences he could share with an engaged and enthusiastic crowd.
But, I guess that’s the sign of an exceptional live performer. They leave their audience wanting more. Which is why I am left with one simple request of Rollins (and I know I won’t be alone in the sentiment): Keep talking, pal.
Henry Rollins’s Keep Talking, Pal is available for streaming on ShowtimeAnytime. The album version is available on February 15.