Day 31: Gary Gulman

Day 31. Each day in May, I’m sharing one stand up set and talking about why I like it. Today’s set is 2014 performance by Gary Gulman. This one contains less flight of fancy than some of his other Conan appearances, and I’m still really into it. Here’s just a few reasons why:

• ORIGINS. Gary keenly notices that there’s varying pulp quantities in orange juice. The reason I’m laughing isn’t because of just the observation, though, but because Gary takes it one step further and builds an origin story around it. He does the same for his observation that we have so much music for free in our phones. By theorizing how we ended up here, Gary hilariously reveals the ridiculousness of the current state. (See also: Theoretical Act Outs - Joe List, Day 9)

• REDEFINING. In some of my favorite jokes of this set, Gary takes a word or phrase and redefines it. “The phone is this seldom used app on my phone.” “It only adds up, if you add it up.” (Even to some extent, “There’s orange in my orange juice.”) The definition repeats the original term at the end and is very succinct, so that the joke isn’t lost in the interim. Instead, my brain can quickly go back and, almost like a garden path sentence, rerun what I just heard with the new meaning. When I do solve the equation with this new value, I gleefully laugh at Gary’s clever take. (See also: Antanaclasis - Maggie Maye, Day 20)

• MAGNIFICATION. In multiple bits, Gary’s able to show me the funny by revealing an extreme. He was so lazy he bought a movie he owned on DVD. We’re so entitled we want all the music on our phone and, alluding to The Godfather, to pay nothing for it. And the Scholastic Book Club was so slow it would deliver the book at high school graduation. These are outsized examples, and be they hyperbole or true, they’re so absurd that they get me laughing, all while establishing Gary’s sharp points. (See also: Extremes - Greg Giraldo, Day 8)

Hope you enjoyed it. For more Gary Gulman, check out his numerous specials, other popular TV spots, and social media: @garygulman