Comedian, author, and educator devoted to children's literacy, Alvin Irby is the kind of treasure you don't come across every day. We at Stellar Underground have already been impressed by Irby's adorably disgusting children's book, Gross Gregg, as well as his many socially oriented accomplishments such as his program, Barbershop Books, which provides early literacy training to barbers. But now, it's time to add his new comedy album to his list of achievements.
Recorded at Gotham Comedy Club, Irby's second album Really Dense immediately draws you in with his animated tone and nimble pace. An exceptional blend of observation, social commentary, and storytelling, Irby wins you over with relatable tales of New York commuter trauma and AirBnB woes, giving a glimpse into his own life as he weaves his personal experience around each clever anecdote. His ability to create a vivid scene for each story is as engaging as it is funny, and his wry wit, whether it be in finding the difference between racism and “checking for density” in the groin department (a TSA joke that gives a new spin on terrorism), or his theory on what GNC is actually selling, is somehow both refreshing and yet reminiscent of an old-school classic comic. Speaking of which, his jokes pertaining to working with children have all the charm of a pre-scandal Cosby, with a modern flair and fresh take on kids saying the darndest things.
Irby also manages to address racism with a kind of charming edge, such as a biting joke about sending police officers to the Olympics with black men as targets. The social commentary is clear, but told in such a disarming way that you hardly notice his ability to poke holes in the fabric of society's shortcomings. Discussing children, terrorism, and life in general, Irby imbues a warmth to his jokes that is as welcoming as it is entertaining, and allows you to think critically while feeling good about it at the same time. When the album ended, my first reaction was, “it's over already?” and the second was simply wishing for more.
“Really Dense” will be officially released on August 10th on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, and Pandora! Thus, the invitation is officially open to listen along, and join us in awaiting Alvin Irby's next move in the comedy scene.