There’s a peculiar feeling that comes with listening to the latest Emma Arnold stand-up album, Abortion. Abortion. Abortion., and it has little to do with her triumvirate use of the titular medical procedure.
When someone tells a story in a distinctive and enthralling way, they will captivate an audience no matter how familiar the tale or how much they expect the endgame.
With Arnold’s latest offering, it seems she prepares to do just so: she steps to the plate with all the strength and pomp befitting a comic of her talent. She grabs the microphone with all the swagger and confidence of a veteran stand-up. She then commands the audience’s attention and immediately starts telling the tale of her sexual explorations as a thirty-something mother of three.
But, much like the poem Casey At The Bat, Arnold, unfortunately, strikes out with Abortion. Abortion. Abortion. despite being perfectly poised to step up and smash a home run out the park.
Much of the misfires found in Abortion. Abortion. Abortion. revolve around the material covered in the album. By the end of her set, Arnold details the ups and downs of breaking up with a boyfriend who doesn’t want to commit, the struggles of looking for love in your late 30s with children, and discovering the power of her inner cougar by dating much younger men and exploring her bisexuality.
Yes, Arnold explores avenues that are new to her and it is a praiseworthy adventure. But, in the realm of comedy, these are trails already blazed many times over by Arnold’s predecessors. Comics like Elayne Boosler tackled the notion of being “The Whore of Babylon,” Margaret Cho went to great lengths to hide her “Beaver Fever” and Iliza Shlesinger explained away a woman’s desire to eat like a madman on a first date. All of these comics, and many more, have tackled these topics presented by Arnold and have done so with a flair and gusto that isn’t found throughout this sophomore album.
That’s not to say that audiences on the road don’t eat up her stories of dating frustrations and sexual exploits and childcare—after all, she tours regularly around the country and there’s a reason for that. With her talent and ingenuity, Arnold has the potential to be a household name in comedy if she charts a new course through both explored and (hopefully) unexplored waters.
Ultimately, Abortion. Abortion. Abortion., much like mighty Casey, fails to hit the game-winning grand slam when it needed to the most.
Emma Arnold’s Abortion. Abortion. Abortion. is available now in stores and digital marketplaces via Blonde Medicine Records.