New York comic milks sly non-sequiturs for laughs
Eugene Mirman ranks among America’s most fearless comedians—not because his material takes great risks or shatters societal taboos, but because he’s made his name opening for rock bands, struggling stubbornly to connect with chatty and impatient Modest Mouse fans. Fortunately, the New York City comic’s sly, sarcastic gags play well with the indie-rock crowd, which helps explain why En Garde, Society! is seeing release on the label that’s home to The Shins, The Postal Service and, not coincidentally, comedian (and Mirman pal) David Cross.
More conventionally joke-oriented and less engrossingly thought-provoking than Cross, Mirman doesn’t kill with every gag, and it shows on En Garde, Society!—particularly in a labored bit of overlong studio material at the end. But his loosely connected gags possess a distinct rhythm when strung together, as Mirman tosses off anecdotes that take three or four sentences to unfold before giving way to hilarious, impeccably delivered non-sequiturs.
Mirman’s absurd, occasionally meta-conversational hair-pin turns tend to make his material better heard or seen than read (and his longish setups don’t lend themselves to easy quoting), but he’s an oddly likeable presence throughout this funny, unpredictable set.