James Adomian: Low Hangin Fruit
Comedy podcast nerds (especially Comedy Bang! Bang! aficionados) probably already know James Adomian as a master impressionist with a sure grasp of his characters that makes him one of the most gifted improvisers around. The release of Low Hangin Fruit (the first album from the Earwolf podcasting network) shows off his considerable skill as a stand-up, mixing his impressions with observational material that has refreshing relevance.
Adomian is at his best when he’s in character, and he’s a remarkable mimic. He turns a Paul Giamatti impression into an over-the-top spoof of his public persona, mashing up John Adams and Sideways with the simplest of set-ups. “Me and Washington are thinking of taking a couple of horses and maybe driving up the coast to sample some wine… but if I get to Philadelphia and Ben Franklin is serving merlot, I’m fucking out of here!”
There are also appearances from the conspiratorial Jesse Ventura, the acronym-loving Gary Busey, and the perpetually stunned TV host Huell Howser. The transitions between straight stand-up and character bits are occasionally clunky, but it’s exciting enough to hear the impressions that it doesn’t really matter. Other, longer bits that encompass a range of voices—including an exceptional closing track about gay cinema villains that features the Decepticons and the Sheriff of Nottingham—are better-integrated and a blast to listen to.
But even without the impressions, Low Hangin Fruit would be worth a listen. Adomian’s a confident yet affable stand-up with a pronounced political edge, and some of the album’s most compelling moments come when he’s speaking from his own experience about visiting improbable gay bars in small towns or bombing as Joan Rivers’ opening act. (Be sure to listen to the hidden track.) Adomian’s a smart, gay, progressive comic, and he doesn’t equivocate when talking about more politically sensitive issues. At the same time, he’s not hectoring his audience or preaching some specific worldview. This is a fun, breezy set that never gets bogged down. Adomian’s skill at bouncing from a character piece to silly sportscaster impressions to something one step away from sketch comedy (a digression on the animatronic prospector warning folks to “turn back!” on an amusement-park ride) is polished enough that the occasional lurch is forgivable.
Listen to a sample at earwolf.com/jamesadomian