After all, the digital set starts with a track titled Titties, an enthusiastic rally cry by Cownie for the audience to audibly confirm their overwhelming love for women’s breasts followed by his condemnation of their overtly sexist reactions.
Yet, as you dive deeper into the despondent world of the Nebraska-born comic, you begin to see the method to his melancholy madness.
The album shows a subdued soul who developed a dependency on marijuana and Mountain Dew. It tells of a husband going through “a fourth divorce” and fighting for custody of his children, Brandon and Bruce Lee. It spotlights the lowest point a person can reach: having to get “spotted” $1.99 from a six-year old child in order to buy a silly smartphone game.
And it delves into the psyche of a man who pranked his estranged “ex-wife” during sex by only thrusting his neck and head, and keeping rest of his body completely still—an act he admits is probably why he is in getting divorced.
By its completion, however, I Can’t Die showcases Cownie’s masterful ability to command a crowd with a perfect mix of midwest charm and big city bravado befitting of an experienced stand-up.
There is much to love about I Can’t Die. There’s an energy in the room with the live audience that matches the charge a crowd receives when discovering a future superstar in the making. There’s an inherent sense of respect for Cownie’s natural ability to almost instantaneously win a crowd over with his tickling tom-foolery.
In fact, the level of absurdity that Cownie climbs to in order to entertain is quite admirable. His material is farcical for sure. It is very tongue-in-cheek in its content, so much so that you honestly don’t know what statements are fact and what is exaggerated fiction. Despite the continuity cloud enveloping the comedy, the stories are crafted in a creative and engaging way that you really don’t care.
His deadpan delivery yields to powerful punchlines throughout, which matches his introspective look at the nonsensical aspects of life. It’s obvious he is immensely comfortable in the spotlight and in front of a crowd, as throughout his set he seamlessly weaves his prepared material and crowd work in a professional-looking comedic tapestry.
With I Can’t Die, or any comedy album for that matter, you expect to laugh and be entertained for an extended period of time. Cownie’s debut effort accomplishes that mission wholeheartedly.
What makes this listening experience memorable is that it also comes with a welcome surprise: witnessing the nascent stage of a future comedy superstar.
Ryan Cownie’s I Can’t Die is available on March 15 via Stand Up! Records.