“I’m black, I’m gay, I’m female. I’m just so thankful I wasn’t left-handed.”
New York-via-Atlanta comedian Pat Brown isn’t shy about her identity on her debut album, Sex Tape, but her easygoing, observational style means that folks who aren’t black or gay or female will find as much to enjoy in the material as folks who are. For example, Brown touches on hot button subjects like marriage equality and the Black Lives Matter movement, but in ways that are silly rather than strident. She claims to be happy that gay people can finally get married, because that means she can finally marry Ricky Martin. Later, she compares white privilege to sibling rivalry, since kids who are their parents’ favorites pretend they don’t notice they are getting better treatment than their brothers and sisters.
Brown’s hour is at its best when she lets these kind of specific, sometimes bizarre ideas fly. Whether imagining the lengths women would go to to masturbate if their genitals were in the middle of their back, or describing the fear of getting assaulted in a “dark alley” inside a grocery store, Brown clearly has a fertile imagination and a healthy sense of the absurd. When talking (inevitably) about the differences between men and women, she posits that if men bled out of their penis once a month, it still would not be enough to stop them from trying to get laid that night.
Again and again, Brown visits well-trodden territory but offers a pleasantly cock-eyed take that injects new life into her subjects. A fairly sizable chunk about “mediocre successes” — like Soulja Boy and Kim Kardashian — sidesteps predictable punchlines by focusing on the sad fate of Ray J, i.e., the other person in the Kim Kardashian sex tape who didn’t become famous.
The approach doesn’t always work. The last quarter of the album starts to run out of steam, as Brown talks about her love of Barack and Michelle Obama (just in the nick of time), her lack of desire to have kids, and her experiences at the gynecologist. Apart from a few snappy throwaways — like one about Sasha and Malia being the first black children a president has admitted to fathering — these bits feel fairly rote and sadly safe. Brown doesn’t want to leave any audience members out, but the down side of gearing some material to a wider audience is that it loses the specific, weird flavor of the best bits in the show.
For a first comedy album, Sex Tape is brisk and confident, and it offers plenty of laughs throughout. Pat Brown’s set is full of outlandish, imaginative jokes, but she hedges her bets a little too often with blander, easier jokes as well. Here’s hoping that when the second album comes around, she’s willing to go further out on a limb.
The Pat Brown Sex Tape is available on Tuesday, July 26, as an audio download or stream from iTunes, Spotify, etc.
The video version of the same material will be available exclusively at comedianpatbrown.com.
Justin Remer makes movies, directs music videos, and plays in the bands Duck the Piano Wire and Elastic No-No Band when he is not writing movie reviews. His folk-rock documentary MAKING LOVERS & DOLLARS is currently streaming on Amazon.