Stephen Lynch

Stephen Lynch

Date of birth: 28-07-1971
Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Michigan, Lynch began writing comedy sons while a drama student at Western Michigan University in the early Nineties.

He moved to New York in 1996 with the hope of becoming an actor, although found greater success in the city's comedy clubs, although he had to supplement his meagre earnings from performing with a string of temporary jobs.

He worked his way up through the nightclub and college circuit and in 2000 recorded his first Comedy Central Presents special, and his first studio album A Little Bit Special. He started opening for comedians including Jeff Foxworthy, Steven Wright, Bobcat Goldthwaite and Lewis Black and 2004 toured as a twin headliner with Mitch Hedberg.

Lynch took a break from the comedy circuit for most of 2006 to star in the Broadway musical version of The Wedding Singer.

In 2008, he starred in his second Comedy Central special and performed his first European tour, including dates in Britain. He also played the Reading and Leeds festivals, Pimm's Summerfest in London on Bulmer's Comedy Festival in Dublin. Most dates sold out, due to the popularity of his songs on YouTube.

His second album, 3 Balloons, was released in 2009 in the States and 2010 in the UK, and he performed a short series of dates here to launch it.

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Stephen Lynch: 3 Balloons

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

YouTube has been good to Stephen Lynch. With an internet-friendly of brevity, music and adolescent’s sense of bad taste, having most of his material to the web has boosted his fan base, rather than eroded it.

With no mainstream media profile to speak of, this good-looking American can fill sizeable British venues, such as the 2,400-seater Brixton Academy, with adoring fans. And I do mean adoring – he’s given a rock-star’s welcome as the auditorium is filled with hollers, cat-calls and the flashing of a thousand cameras. YouTube will be awash with even more poor-quality recordings of his songs after this mini UK tour.

This is one of those gigs that’s hero-worship as much as comedy; roars of approval are more common than laughs, and any quiet moment is filled with gobby lads irritatingly yelling out demands for his back catalogue – much to his chagrin as it’s the new album, 3 Balloons, he wants to showcase.

The crowd just want to hear things they know – typical for a band, but usually anathema to a comedian relying on the element of surprise. They don’t even care, particularly, whether it’s Lynch’s own work they hear – when he sarcastically launches into Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin in irritation at being treated like a jukebox, the reaction is one of the best of the night.

For those who don’t already know Lynch’s canon, the appeal is less clear-cut, with many of his lyrics taking a very easy route to laughs. Distinctive stand-ups are largely expected to do more than reel out lazy gags about Aids, haemorrhoids and unkempt pubic hair then put on a ‘retard’ voice – but this is the regressive bread-and-butter of Lynch’s songwriting. Towards the end he sings a song about ‘big titties’ as a montage is projected behind him, just in case the subtle message of the track might be lost.

This is typical of the frat-boy level at which he largely operates – and he knows it. ‘Move over Chris Rock, move over Tim Minchin,’ he acknowledges sardonically… but there’s no escaping the truth that he’s comedically a long way behind those two. He’s a strong musician, though, and his elegant songs both tunnel into your subconscious and lend his gags a classiness they don’t really deserve, as there’s no escaping the undemanding nature of much of the supposedly ‘offensive’ humour.

There’s more fun to be had when he doesn’t head straight below the belt. Little Tiny Moustache – about a Nazi girlfriend – is a gag-packed stand-out, reminiscent of the much-lamented Corky And The Juice Pigs at their finest. And even in his more obvious songs, there are plenty of smaller gags to liven up the predictable – from the wry, musical opening joke in the intro to the song Waiting to breaking into a New Kids On The Block dance during D&D.

Away from the music, things are altogether less assured as he mucks around in a semi-scripted way his brother Drew and David Josefsberg, an impressive vocal talent who co-starred with Lynch in the Broadway version of the Wedding Singer. These frustratingly scrappy segments dissipate any momentum, rather than build on it.

Still, Lynch’s fans go away more than happy and thoroughly entertained by his nicely packaged, but none-too-exciting musical comedy. But I’d rather wait till Mr Minchin rolls into town again…

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Published: 7 Mar 2010

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