Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Music In Brief 4203

It's too bad—for a number of reasons—that Bill Hicks died in 1994. In 2006, he could've afforded to be the world's laziest comedian, recycling his own material about George Bush, war in Iraq, the death penalty ("I don't find it ironic at all, Christians for the death penalty… If it weren't for capital punishment, we'd have no Easter!"), and an ineffectual mass media. Salvation: Oxford November 11, 1992 (Ryko) finds Hicks in his vitriolic prime, and the two-disc, two-hour performance serves as the perfect introduction (even more so than the recent Philosophy: The Best Of Bill Hicks) to a guy who could make bitterness and shame so pointedly funny. There are even a few dick jokes, delivered with faux-reluctance, but with passion just the same. Ryko also recently released a DVD called Sane Man, a fans-only set from before his career began to take off… A-

You might recognize Harland Williams' face and/or voice from his brief turns in There's Something About Mary (he's the crazy hitchhiker), Dumb And Dumber, and Half-Baked. His stand-up, while good for a chuckle, isn't even as memorable as his forgettable film roles: On the tellingly named Har-Larious (Comedy Central), he jokes about loud car speakers, tattoos, the wacky names of Starbucks drinks, the difficulty of assembling Ikea furniture, and so on. It's over-the-top and absurd enough to be joltingly funny on occasion, but it's junk-food comedy—sweet, but rarely memorable… C

A massive, welcoming set—three CDs and a DVD—of New York comedy, Invite Them Up (Comedy Central) documents more than a dozen stand-ups (and some musicians), all tied together by their participation in a weekly freeform live show put together by Eugene Mirman and Bobby Tisdale. Unsurprisingly, Mirman's stuff is some of the best here; he's a loopy absurdist whose videos—this set includes three, including one in which he's dressed up in a cheap knight costume, babbling about the modern world—are often gut-busting. Other highlights include Demetri Martin, who's been popping up recently on The Daily Show, and Todd Barry, a deadpan who's gotten some deserved attention in the last couple of years. Sure, there are occasional SCT—standard comedy tropes—but the price is right for such an all-encompassing introduction to the city's underground comedy scene. B

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