Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a cowboy poet, a lascivious theater director, a wannabe Mayor of Hollywood and L. Ron Hubbard walk into a bar. On his latest comedy album Four More Sweaters: Monsters Take Your Questions, comedian Andy Daly takes the stage as each of these characters, sharing their off-kilter world views and conducting spirited audience Q and As. The former is not new in Daly’s repertoire—his 2008 album Nine Sweaters follows the same concept—but remains utterly delightful and worthwhile.
The four-part set is a crash course in effective (and hilarious) worldbuilding. Though the ubiquity of podcasts may suggest otherwise, creating a vivid sense of a character’s background through audio alone—and in this case without sound effects as well—is a difficult task. Daly does so effortlessly, though, spinning yarns like nobody’s business. With his master storytelling, it’s easy to picture vampire-battling cowboy Dalton Wilcox wandering the desert and attempting to fuck the wind, wearing nothing but a Stetson and a smile.
Dalton is the most fully realized character in the set, and Daly is wise to open with his folksy anecdotes. The comic could have easily spent the entire record giving out about city slickers and still have won fans over. Dalton’s cowboy poetry and Hank Hill-adjacent accent (thankfully with much more inflection) make him feel like a beloved character from an Adult Swim show. However, we’re glad Daly decided to introduce us to the creepy Don DiMello, ambitious Chip Gardner and his time-traveling version of L. Ron Hubbard, too. None of them overstay their welcome, and Daly’s economical use of his time is refreshing in a genre where self-indulgence tends to be the M.O. Four More Sweaters isn’t centered on a particular character, a pitfall that paints some performers into a professional corner; rather, it showcases Daly’s ability to jump between ridiculous personas and keep us laughing the whole time.
The podcaster and actor isn’t content simply working with scripted material, though. The integration of a question and answer section for each character highlights Daly’s improvisational skills and just how much he’s fleshed out these ludicrous personas. His responses to audience queries tend to be brief and sometimes leave you wanting more, but their conciseness also keeps these sections from becoming bloated (something that many podcast live shows could learn from).
Daly’s impeccable blend of improv and prepared stand-up propels Four More Sweaters into “comedy album of the year” territory. There’s no time like the present to get weird, and he is happy to lead the way.
Clare Martin writes about comedy, music and more for Paste.