I first heard Paul Strickland sing at a late-night karaoke party on the Fringe lawn. I was almost to the parking lot, but his voice was arresting enough to make me stop and turn to see who had such golden pipes. Strickland shows off his singing with a few songs in his latest autobiographical laugh fest, but good as they are, they left me wishing he'd get back to the comedy — because that's even better.
As always, his best moments are self-deprecating, playing off the fact he's "35 pounds overweight" or is lousy with women — "I had to
An added twist this time is his awareness he's growing older. Strickland's 32 (the horror), but his stories encapsulate that awkward age — "adult puberty," he calls it — nicely. It's an age at which you're not young anymore, but you're not old either, and Strickland's travails invariably build to a very funny punch line.
It can be jarring to establish the comic vibe, then bring the room down with an introspective ballad. And a few references to rape in a comic context, even in a nongraphic way, left me squirming (and seem at odds with Strickland's nice-guy persona).
But these are blips among the belly laughs. Strickland tells us he thinks comedy should be scored like Olympic gymnastics, with points awarded for both level of difficulty and achievement. OK, then: 9.5 for difficulty, 9 for achievement, and yes, he stuck the landing.
60 minutes, Brown Venue, $11, Orlando Fringe Festival official page.
• Friday 18 May; at 8:15pm in the Brown
• Sunday 20 May; at 6:15pm in the Brown
• Monday 21 May; at 5:00pm in the Brown
• Tuesday 22 May; at 10:45pm in the Brown
• Thursday 24 May; at 9:15pm in the Brown
• Saturday 26 May; at 9:30pm in the Brown