Comedian Chris Redd begins his debut album But Here We Are with a thunderous rebel yell and a warm greeting to those who were in attendance at Comedy on State comedy club in Madison, WI. “Hello white people,” he says. “I see you are still doing well.”
After laughing, he adds, “That is not how I thought I was going to start this but here we are.” It is an introduction that is befitting of the brash and brazen Chicago-born stand-up who has come a long way since his early beginnings in the Windy City. Redd has already made a name for himself on the small screen, starring in shows like Disjointed and Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later before becoming a regular cast member of Saturday Night Live.
But it seems that when it comes to his comedy, he is most comfortable performing live—alone—on stage. But Here We Are serves as a solid example of Redd’s high-quality comedic insight that comes while he occasionally spits the proverbial ‘hot fire.’
The Emmy Award-winner is energetic in his delivery throughout this album and on point with his timing. The stories found on the album detail his interactions with the “crackhead magicians” of Los Angeles, his desire to be a Chicago “gangsta” while growing up, and the importance of knowing the psychological profile of the person who shares your bed at night.
There is also a level of comfort and ease that comes with listening to the lively Redd, a condition that occurs due to his steady and solid delivery of specific social messages. In fact, there are moments when you feel like as if you can tell the story along with him, filling in the blanks as you both go.
There’s a familiar sentiment in Redd’s performance due to his incredibly relatable stories. While the setting and the characters vary, the final conclusion—how one reacts to the absurdities life presents on a daily basis—rings all too familiar in the end.
While the audience reaches this conclusion early on, they stick with Redd throughout his performance because the journey taken with him is just as satisfying as arriving at his creative destination. That’s the tell-tale sign of a superb storyteller, a trait which Redd has developed and is on the road to mastering.
The only true drawback that comes with But Here We Are revolves around its length, which is something that seems to be a developing pattern amongst contemporary comedy albums. While its run time is over 40 minutes, the grand total comes via only seven tracks. And each track itself comprises of one of Redd’s fully told episodes, with the exception of the aforementioned short introduction.
It’s a shame that there isn’t more of Redd here because if there was, the album could reach even greater heights. Perhaps the days of the hour-plus albums are growing short, or maybe it’s just a trend with younger comics (Dave Chappelle certainly isn’t holding back, dropping hours of brilliant material in a year). New comics should develop the comedic muscle memory of writing longer sets for live performances.
Ultimately, though, Redd’s But Here We Are is an excellent jaunt through the life and times of a budding stand-up comic who is only limited by the breadth of his own imagination.
Chris Redd’s But Here We Are is available now via Comedy Central Records.