Clare O’Kane Gets Silly and Sincere on Her Sophomore Comedy Album

Comedy Reviews Clare O'Kane
Clare O’Kane Gets Silly and Sincere on Her Sophomore Comedy Album

Humor is sometimes considered an emotional defense mechanism, a way to keep your feelings at arms’ length, but I think that’s a narrow view of the matter. Laughing at the worst parts of our lives is often the first step to being able to address them more honestly. Instead of constructing a wall, comedy carves out a small opening so we can finally open up and become more vulnerable.

Never is this clearer than on Clare O’Kane’s relentlessly silly yet surprisingly heartfelt sophomore album Everything I Know How To Do, out now via PGF Records. O’Kane is known for her work writing on Season 47 and 48 Saturday Night Live, Shrill, and SpongeBob SquarePants, but her voice is most lucid in her unfiltered, unabashedly weird stand-up. 

A major part of O’Kane’s appeal is her haphazard delivery, in which she’ll randomly yell, slip into goofy voices, or break into song. Her overemphasis of certain consonants (“tight little Tubi”) alone sells a line. Her irresistible enthusiasm softens her ever-present sarcasm, adding a goofiness to her dryer observations. O’Kane often chuckles to herself throughout the set, and you can’t blame her—shit’s funny!

O’Kane kicks off the set with a rejected SNL sketch about She-Hulk’s vagina, setting the tone for a gloriously lewd and ludicrous album. Most of Everything I Know How To Do centers around O’Kane’s personal life, specifically her sexuality and her feelings about her dead parents. Neither of these topics are necessarily new territory for the comedian—both are touched on in her excellent debut Let It Be—but she takes a novel approach to these subjects so that it all feels fresh. She dreams up inventive and laugh-out-loud funny comparisons about polyamory and pansexuality, addressing the audience with a shrugging, “Sorry, this is identity comedy, baby.”

On Let It Be, O’Kane does an impression of her mother’s ghost, poking fun at stereotypical portrayals of Asian women, and tells a surprisingly heartwarming story about walking in on her father masturbating. Both of these moments are woven into that album fairly seamlessly, while Everything I Know How To Do is more direct, with the comedian dissecting the awkwardness of trying to talk about her late parents in a medium that’s all about laughs. O’Kane’s frankness and off-kilter sense of humor make this meta-commentary work. This time her mother is the focus of the most emotionally stirring bit, a reminder of how something as simple as a whiff of a certain scent can bring back memories and reduce us to tears. Her blend of tenderness and body humor here is pitch-perfect; it’s reminiscent of her affecting performance in Dad & Step-Dad, especially the scene in which she talks to her son about the nuances of sexuality.

The three bonus tracks are perhaps the strangest part of the album, but they do add a little something. Hearing the She-Hulk sketch fleshed out is a pleasure, and O’Kane’s recitation of an Adobo Chicken recipe over Kaye Loggins’ dreamy beats is oddly soothing. “Ragin’ Cajun: A Sincere Song About James Carville” doesn’t hit like the other tracks, but it does make me think O’Kane has a second career in her as a folk singer. 

All in all, this is a brilliant album by one of comedy’s best weirdos for other weirdos. And hey, I think her name is pretty cool.

Everything I Know How To Do is out now via PGF Records. 

Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.

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