Some comics put themselves forward as superheroes starring in their own fantastical tales. They curse a lot and puff themselves up like some two-bit pop star. Those comics are boring.

Mike Stanley
(Stand Up!)

Mike Stanley spins tales from his life . . . or, at least, he puts a spin on his life. And he's eternally self-deprecating. The main theme of this set is his move back to Detroit from L.A., and there are moments where his California values come into a bit of conflict with the audience. He does a screamingly funny bit about explaining gay marriage to kids that did not get the uproarious howls it deserved. And that makes this set that much more intriguing.

Stanley occasionally puffs himself up, but every time he immediately undercuts it with a backhanded swipe. This is a classic trope, but it still works wonders. It allows the members of the audience to take a closer assessment of themselves.

How deep does he get? I don't know. I think Stanley's approach may be a bit too subtle to really drive home any greater points, but he does manage to skewer the ideal of the white male suburban male. And he does reach something of a rhapsodic peak in the middle of the set, rambling through a female bodybuilder fantasy and then segueing into a lengthy, full-throated faux-attack on feminism that, of course, affirms it.

I'm not sure I'd recommend a harsher approach, though. White guys can only take so much change. Look at the recent election if you don't believe me. Perhaps Mike Stanley is just the guy to stamp out the last of the Neanderthal DNA that remains. Or maybe he's just pretty funny. Either way, it's good.

Jon Worley

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