Aaron Berg Unscripted
Published Jun 29, 2016The premise of Aaron Berg's Unscripted is an interesting one. Entirely improvised, his set involves getting onstage and creating a routine based on the audience members, therefore relying on crowd work — a neat idea that ensures that no two of his shows are alike. Such an approach requires a fair amount of confidence and wit, and Berg easily demonstrates that he is not lacking in either.
From the outset, Berg demonstrates remarkable skill in engaging the audience, who become the subjects of his jokes and serve to hold up each of the tracks of this album. We've got Aldrich, the German-Costa Rican-Asian from Ohio; Miranda, the single, babely nurse who just moved to Miami; Carlos, the man with a passion for air conditioning and many other colourful characters who wouldn't exist with a different audience. Even without having been there, I could easily sense the ease with which Berg engaged his audience and created relationships that hadn't existed before he got on stage.
But skill and wit aside, I felt that the subject matter of his routine didn't allow for a proper showcasing of his comedic talents. Every joke revolved around the topics of sex, race or homosexuality, and it felt as though Berg sought out the lowest hanging fruit in order to demonstrate his abilities in improvisation. Although the roars of the audience indicated that the majority were on board with Berg, there were the occasional disparaging yells, such as "Why did you ask that?" after inquiring whether a couple still has sex a lot. Berg himself was well aware that he was pushing the limits of propriety, frequently remarking that the audience was great, and that he couldn't believe how much they "get the dirty, weird shit." But although vulgarity seemed to be his shtick, I felt that it made the entire routine fall flat.
Having previously authored a book of satire about living as a "true American patriot," it is possible that this routine was also meant to come off as satirical. Nevertheless, there wasn't any evidence of irony or attempts to challenge dominant ideologies, resulting in a routine that came off as crass rather than satirical. As a result, the album and its subject matter didn't serve as the proper vehicle to demonstrate Berg's true comedic potential. (Comedy Records)