• Doug Benson: ‘Smug Life’ (Review)

    The Comedy King of the Stoners is back this year with an intriguing experiment. Doug Benson released his double CD, Smug Life, this week through Comedy Central Records.

    Here’s the deal: He recorded two shows, as usual on 4/20 (hehe), at Parlor Live Comedy Club in Bellevue, Washington– but this year the first show is “uncooked” and the second totally “cooked.” That is, he stayed sober for the first hour, then ate a potent pot pill just in time to get completely baked for the second hour, and he’s given us both.

    The album includes the expected amount of movie references, pot humor (which, he demonstrates, you don’t need to be high to sell), hilariously weird anecdotes, and a slew of goofy tweets, which he reads and discusses, as he’s known to do. The set list for each CD is generally the same, so you get a fair comparison.

    Despite its promised potency, the weed doesn’t seem to cause a stark difference early on between Benson’s sets.

    His trademark giggles and what seem like random tangents come just as naturally sober as high. Later in the second hour, the difference is more noticeable, as his bits loosen up and the tangents expand. The pace is definitely slower on the “Cooked” portion, while he’s a little crisper “Uncooked,” but that can as easily be attributed to the time of night and the energy of the crowd as it can to Benson getting high. Maybe I expected that he’d forget punch lines or fall into fits of giggling at himself. But Benson is obviously a seasoned professional in both comedy and getting high, and he mixes them well.

    The Smug Life experiment is a welcome and clever variation to the tradition stand-up album (of which there are so many these days) and it proves that Benson can deliver more than just pot jokes. His writing is solid and skillfully-delivered, and his rapport with the audience is just as strong, whether he’s stone-cold sober or high as a kite. It also simply gives us the benefit of double the Doug this time around, with the added bonus for comedy nerds of analyzing how the same jokes are delivered under different circumstances.

    Smug Life is now available. You should download it now!

    Dana Sitar

    Dana Sitar is a freelance comedy journalist trying to answer the question “What is it like to be a comedian?” She shares this quest and other tips from the writer's life at DanaSitar.com and on Twitter @DanaSitar

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