Daniel Van Kirk Makes His Grandma Proud with Rose Gold

Comedy Reviews Daniel Van Kirk
Daniel Van Kirk Makes His Grandma Proud with Rose Gold

Bald, bearded white guys can be good, actually. Even bald, bearded white male comedians can be good. Kyle Kinane immediately comes to mind when thinking about this surprisingly pleasant brotherhood, but you’d be wrong to overlook Daniel Van Kirk, a comedian who you may be familiar with from his appearances in Bob’s Burgers, Physical, and Central Park or his podcasts with Rory Scovel and The Sklar Brothers.

Like Kinane, Van Kirk is unpretentious, getting into the nitty gritty side of America and sprinkling in some philosophical musings along the way. Hell, the whole opening bit from his new album Rose Gold is about Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Resort in Lake Conroe Texas—the name repeated in full each time for maximum effect—and nothing captures this country’s messy diversity like a hotel named for one of the best partiers to have ever lived. 

As for his philosophy, Van Kirk at first urges us all to care a bit less on the new album (which was also released as a special on YouTube last month). “I don’t want to know who you voted for, I just want to get along with you,” he insists, which is easy for him to say as someone whose existence wasn’t targeted by the last administration (not that I’m saying Biden is much better). But as Rose Gold wears on, Van Kirk extols the virtues of his grandmother’s unconditional love (fitting, as the album is named for her), urging us all to listen to each other and leave bigotry behind. It’s a heartwarming message, one that feels a tad repetitive considering that his 2019 album Thanks Diane opens with a call for us to remember that we’re all in it together, but that is, unfortunately, something we still need to be reminded of five years and a whole pandemic later. 

Van Kirk weaves these sentiments into a set filled with stories that are stuffed with tangents that are brimming with even more asides. A tale about going to Big Bear in June 2020 takes up most of the album because Van Kirk keeps finding new avenues to explore, including the wild drunkenness of Wisconsin, the Mean Girls stage country’s in, and his HGTV drinking games Sloperty Brothers and House Chuggers. You don’t mind taking the scenic route to the punch line, though, because these diversions are just so hilarious. In fact, they end up being better than the Big Bear joke itself and overshadow the framing device. 

The closing anecdote on Rose Gold is a wholesome 13-minute account of a parking incident in Boston, and perhaps the best summation of what Van Kirk all about as a stand-up. There are misunderstandings, silly accents (including his signature Mark Wahlberg impression), and ultimately a moment of connection that gives extra meaning to the laughs.

Daniel Van Kirk’s new album Rose Gold is out now via Blonde Medicine and available wherever you listen to comedy.

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

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