Guide Rating: *****
Patton Oswalt's second full-length comedy album (following 2004's excellent Feelin' Kinda Patton), Werewolves and Lollipops, is something of a masterpiece. Combining articulate observational humor, angry political ranting and casually nerdy pop-culture references, Oswalt offers listeners a look into the world as he sees it - and it's a demented, hilarious place.
While he may not be the most well-known, Patton Oswalt is one of the funniest comedians working today. He shares similarities with other great comics - the politics of David Cross, say, or the anger of the late Bill Hicks - but his worldview is his own. He's a total original.
Werewolves and Lollipops kicks off so strongly with Oswalt's brilliant routine on the KFC "famous bowl," (or, as he calls it, a "failure pile in a sadness bowl,") that it realistically should have nowhere to go but down. That he's able to sustain the same level of excellence over 22 separate bits is no minor accomplishment. The comic skewers everything from his own upbringing to George Lucas and the Star Wars prequels to Cirque de Soleil, never letting his comic energy or intelligence drop for a minute. This is a rare comedy album with no weak bits and no dead spots.
The album is worth a purchase if only to hear Oswalt's lightning-fast dressing-drown of a heckler, who interrupts one of the comedian's quieter setups and threatens to thwart the entire piece. Hearing Oswalt's on-the-spot retaliation - which is so quick and smart that it's difficult to believe he didn't have it already prepared - confirms his status as one of the sharpest comedic minds ever to take the microphone.
Though some of the album's more topical material - such as an extended riff on how President Bush and Vice-President Cheney have become The Dukes of Hazzard - isn't exactly timeless, it does offer future listeners a snapshot of America in 2007. Oswalt's political references may not age well, but his anger and frustration will.
On the second disc is a DVD of a live performance with material pretty close to the finished album. Some of it is in the earlier stages, and it's interesting to hear how certain jokes are refined and polished for the album version. There's not a whole lot of new material here, but at least it gives you the option to listen to or watch this criminally funny comic.