Published Aug 26, 2016Henry Phillips' Neither Here Nor There" is a musical comedy album perfect for cynics. And who can't help but be a little cynical these days?
The album opens with the first few tracks discussing Phillips' painfully awkward encounters with women, before he busts out his guitar and launches into a painfully awkward, fret-buzzing song. The audience is probably under the impression that this poor dude is hopeless at all his endeavours before he pops a "guitar pill" and begins shredding the guitar to appreciative howls from the audience. All right, this guy has been holding out on us.
In Phillips' routine, the guitar is not just some tool he haphazardly learned to help carry his comedy. He has clearly been honing those skills with the same amount of dedication as his comedy, and the two work together to heighten the audience's experience.
Phillips' cynicism is especially evident in his music, with songs touching on the apocalypse, horrible ex-girlfriends, watching other performers succeed while he remains in relative obscurity, and just generally fucking up in life. His one happy song, "Fresh out of the Blues," is just an experiment. He opens that track by telling the audience "What I take from my life I give back through my art, and so far that's all been shit," and so he just wanted to try his hand at writing from the perspective of someone who has it good.
But there does seem to be some optimism alive among the cynicism. After singing a song in which he fails to pay his credit card, recounting the horrible chain reaction that leads to his losing his job and becoming homeless, he notes that at least he can't receive any more mail with bad news. There may be a shit-ton of storm clouds, but they all have a silver lining.
Phillip lets us know that "the world really is a shitty awful place," and that we are all helpless, but acknowledging our helplessness is the best way to keep moving on. Just like Phillips, when you read about the news and learn about all the awful things going on in the world, just shrug your shoulders and ask "What do you want me to do about it?" (Rooftop Comedy)