Ellie Hino Gets Delightfully Dirty on Her Debut Album Soft Bones

Comedy Reviews Ellie Hino
Ellie Hino Gets Delightfully Dirty on Her Debut Album Soft Bones

There’s something so comforting about a Midwestern accent—and that’s coming from someone who grew up over a thousand miles away in the rainy Pacific Northwest. Granted, we had our share of Midwestern transplants in the Seattle area, but culturally, the Midwest is treated as America’s collective hometown, and as such their pinched vowels and idiosyncratic pronunciations have an inherent warmth to them. 

That holds true for Minneapolis-based comic Ellie Hino’s speech, even when she’s telling some of the filthiest jokes you’ve heard in a long time. In fact, the titillating contrast between her wholesome accent and hilariously crass anecdotes is one of the many reasons her debut comedy album, Soft Bones, is a must-listen.

Hino may not be a household name yet, but she’s opened for some over the years: Maria Bamford, Atsuko Okatsuka, Dana Gould, and Bobcat Goldthwait. Listening to Soft Bones just confirms that she deserves to be in such lauded company. 

Hino opens up the set with confidence and maintains casual command over the room throughout the album. When she dips into crowd work, she’s conversational, even gently ribbing some audience members and integrating their responses into her bits. It’s clear from the jump that Hino is a pro behind the mic. 

But who is she? We get to know plenty about Hino during Soft Bones: she’s a mom, she has ADHD, she’s a hospice massage therapist, she wears Vans, and, of course, she is very, very funny. Hino spends much of the set telling us absurd stories from her personal life; a trip to the dog park with her pooch Kevin turns into the stuff of horror movies, and a rare window for sex becomes a chance for her to try out her horny trucker impression. In Hino’s capable hands, these already silly moments become even more entertaining. 

Part of this is due to Hino’s inspired word choice. Her language throughout the record is colorful and evocative. Hino’s inventive descriptions are especially effective during the album’s two main highlights: when she discusses gynecologist visits and the nature of a postpartum vulva. The former is all addressed to one male audience member, Joel, who is walked through every uncomfortable step of going in for a pap smear (or “schmear,” as Hino calls it). Her account of “scooching” on the doctor’s examination table is the most I’ve related to a joke in a long time. Likewise, her verbal rolodex comes in handy when Hino explains in vivid detail the state of her vagina after giving birth to her son. She truly thinks outside the box.

Hino’s voice is distinctively hilarious on Soft Bones, and sure to win over new fans. We hope to see more from the Midswestern comic after enjoying her dreamy, dirty debut.

Soft Bones is out now via Blonde Medicine.

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

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