Published Sep 16, 2016The name of Jasper Redd's 2014 special, Jazz Talk, becomes literal in its final ten minutes. A trio starts playing behind a curtain in the Folly Theater in Kansas City, MO where the special takes place, and that's eventually pulled back. For his part, Redd enters what's the equivalent of rapid fire for his deliberate, confident pacing, shooting out quick, unconnected bits, hitting his beats along with the music. Talking about drug-sniffing dogs, he says, "Dogs are fucking snitches, man. I think we named the wrong animals rats."
That's a classic comedy connection, seeing the associations we have between this and that, turning it slightly, and making it something new. He's adept at it. The punch lines, without sounding spontaneous, definitely still feel like discoveries as he's delivering them.
Onstage, he's in a black suit, his arms often at his sides. He's got a very cool exterior, not wooden or robotic but simply mellow and self-assured. It's appropriate the podcast he co-hosts is called The Goosedown; Redd's a comforting, easy presence, always making it clear that he's right on the track he's got planned out for himself. Comics so confident with their pauses and who allow silence in their set feel rare. Redd manages both with what looks like ease.
If I'm describing his delivery as having what sounds like the qualities of comfort food, well, he does talk about fast food a few times. And movies, and sports, and some other comedic hobby horses. At the same time, he's drawing out personal experiences about political issues on some occasions, coming from a black man originally from Tennessee and now living in Los Angeles. There's a balance he achieves in all that. He's a comedian who sometimes addresses political issues without coming off as a political comedian.
So the content isn't always explicit. Right near the top of his set, he comes out with "I think car horns should sound like gunshots," a phrase that could be a stumbling block for audiences. It takes some unpacking for him to draw the comedy out of that statement, arriving at the cathartic point where the crowd's onboard.
In large, his comedy is about framing. Elsewhere, he's talking about the old "guns don't kill people –– people kill people" justification: "Toasters don't toast toast," he says by way of example. "Toast toasts toast." He's just putting a twist on something and making the familiar unfamiliar, subtly and entertainly challenging us along the way.
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