Because Patton Oswalt is my favorite stand-up comedian, there's a good chance I'm biased when I say that his third album My Weakness is Strong is one of my favorite comedy albums of 2009. More personal and less political than his previous two albums, Feelin' Kinda Patton (2004) and Werewolves and Lollipops (2007), Weakness covers new ground for the comic -- it's the most revealing he's ever been. He's married now ("Text," the album's first track), and was expecting his first child (a daughter) when it was recorded ("Birth"). He reveals that he suffers from depression, positing what would happen if he stopped taking his medication (leading to a very funny riff on The Road Warrior on "The Sad Boy"). While he does eventually get to politics and social commentary ("Obama...and Time Travel...and Coolness...and The Last Racist"), it's only a small piece of the album; fans expecting more of the same from Oswalt may be in for something of a surprise. There's an adjustment period, sure, but much like when Weezer followed up The Blue Album with Pinkerton it only takes a second listen to adjust and realize that the artist you love has created a masterpiece. And that's just what My Weakness is Strong is.
What I've always liked best about Oswalt is just how literate his comedy is; he's one of the few comedians whose work reads just as well as his live act. He's well-versed in everything from literature to history to politics; best of all, he's a true Geek and never shies away from geeky references (the kind that speak to someone like me) to Mad Max movies and Escape From New York. The references aren't for their own sake, however (I'm looking at you, Dane Cook), but are always really commenting on his topic -- it's not necessary that you get all of them, but it's always funnier when you do.
Unlike a lot of stand-up albums (including several that I actually like), Weakness feels like a singular piece -- not just a bunch of bits strung together with the thinnest of transitions. Such is the strength and consistency of Oswalt's voice. It's a dark, revealing, hilarious album that holds up on -- nay, demands -- repeat listens. 2009 has been a strong year for comedy records, with impressive efforts from Maria Bamford, Dana Gould, John Mulaney and Jim Gaffigan, among others. And though I'm already predisposed to like what Patton Oswalt puts out, I don't think there's any wool over my eyes when it comes to his latest effort. I can objectively say that My Weakness is Strong is a great comedy album, making it the third straight from Oswalt. You'll never look at Lucky Charms the same way again.
The CD for My Weakness is Strong comes with a bonus DVD of the comedy special of the same name, which also premiered on Comedy Central days before the album's release. The differences between the album and the special are minor, but it's neat that you'll have the choice how you want your Patton Oswalt.
- Comedy Central Premiere: 8/23/09
- Album Release Date: 8/25/09
- Label: WEA/Reprise