In an article I wrote some time ago about comedian Kyle Kinane, I mentioned that his album Death of the Party, is one of two albums that any serious comedy nerd should own from the last ten years. The other album is Andy Daly’s Nine Sweaters, of course.
Without context, if you were to tell me that there was this hilarious comedy album by a guy who plays nine different characters, I’d tell you that you’re full of shit. Actually I’d be very nice to your face and tell you that I would give it a listen, but in my mind I’d be saying that you’re completely full of shit. If however, we were talking about Andy Daly’s album Nine Sweaters, I’d be dead wrong. Because this album is hysterical.
The concept is simple, Andy portrays nine different characters who all wear a different signature sweater, though that fact is mostly inconsequential. If you’re not immediately familiar with Andy Daly, you’ve probably seen him and didn’t realize it. He ranks right up there with actors like Rob Huebel or Paul Scheer in terms of guest appearances on just about any comedy television show you can name. It was Mad TV that gave him his real break, despite being a pretty not hilarious show. Even he has admitted that it wasn’t really his thing. Regardless, it provided him with the opportunity to move on to other better roles.
He’s had a minor role in a dozen or so movies including Semi-Pro with Will Ferrell, most notably he played principal Terrence Cutler on the HBO series EastBound and Down. I first became a diehard fan in 2007 when I moved to Los Angeles and watched him perform every Saturday night in Asssscat at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. That’s the kind of improv show that separates the greats from the so so’s, he’s a great.
Nine Sweaters was recorded live at the UCB theater over nine weeks and defies the belief that character albums are terrible. Character albums are gimmicky and overly humble, in order to be seen as funny you have to be so familiar with the character that they are almost more famous than the comedian playing them. If you can’t tell, I’d rather wear shoes two sizes to small than listen to a character album.
Unless you’re a huge comedy nerd and have been closely following Andy in his appearances on Comedy Bang Bang, formally Comedy Death Ray, or his many appearances at comedy clubs, you’re not going to know any of these characters. He plays right into the stereotype of the character album, on the surface they’re all as sweet and innocent as grandmas apple pie. Somewhere along that characters journey they take a descent down a nightmarish hellscape of depravity. From The Donny and Marie Show to Lars Von Trier.
Take my favorite character Hap Arden (A Star Is Born). He comes out like an All American affable guy from Nebraska just looking to make it in Hollywood. As he tells his story it just gets darker and darker involving serious self destructive behavior at the Mark Twain Hotel. It climaxes when he gets roped into the scam that is Scientology, and confesses everything he’s ever been ashamed of. What follows is a laundry list of indiscretions that would get anyone locked up for the rest of their lives. Putting a rattlesnake in the ball pit at Gymboree, training a stray dog to attack Chinese people, and writing an anonymous letter to his math teacher that made her pack up and leave town, are the more tame examples.
The horrific atrocities committed by these characters is played so well by Andy that you can’t help but laugh. It’s like hearing Mike Brady or Mr. Rogers talk about a failed suicide attempt and then killing a woman’s cat and making her eat it. The turn to the dark side is timed so precisely and played so straight that it never feels as terrible as it sounds, it’s just plain hilarious. Actually, it is as terrible as it sounds, it’s supposed to. He wants you to love these characters at first then then be terrified by them.
I’ll say it again because that’s just how much I mean it, for any serious comedy nerd there are two albums from the last ten years that are a must own Kyle Kinane’s Death of the Party, and Andy (known as Andrew for the album) Daly’s Nine Sweaters. The Album is available on AST records or Amazon and itunes digitally.