If Conquistadork brings even a few hundred new fans Phil Keeling’s way, then it will be an album well worth the time and effort that clearly went into its conception and release. What makes Keeling’s style of comedy, and by extension this album, such an easy hour to kill over and over again (the album clocks in at just under an hour) is how it comes across in hysterical, well-timed bits like “I Have a Crush On Cyclops” or “Cheeseburgers and Porn.” These pieces, and virtually the entire set, play out much more like a conversation with a friend that just happens to be relentlessly insightful, wise and hilarious. Rather than something that is distinctly or even desperately trying to be funny. The brilliance of Conquistadork is that it feels more like a series of anecdotes and opinions that just happen to have perfect punch lines scattered throughout.
Too many comedians, especially younger ones have great punch lines that are often hindered by setups that are unfortunately so obvious that it ruins the fun a little. This downside associated with many a talented comic never comes up over the course of Conquistadork. Keeling lays into his material and delivery with the confidence and skill of a seasoned comedy veteran. He knows his style, knows exactly what to say, what his audience is thinking and how to roll all of that into one funny piece of material after another (I think I listened to Stripper Small Talk three or four times in a row on the initial listen—It’s just that damn funny). In fact the only negative one is likely to take from Conquistadork are thoughts of what Keeling could have done with an even more responsive audience. That isn’t to say that the audience in his set is dead, impassive or even bored. Far from it. It’s just that Keeling displays a keen, constantly impressive talent throughout this album for reacting to his audience and being able to pull even deeper, uncontrollable laughs out of them. The audience for this particular show is fine, and at the end of day Keeling’s material is all that really matters, but it’s hard not to at least speculate a little on what he could have done with a few thousand people.
If that’s the worst thing you think after listening to this comedic gem, one that damn well better be unearthed by as many people as humanly possible, then you’re not doing too bad at all. And at a price tag that falls under ten bucks, is the prospect of taking a chance on a rapidly rising comedian, one who is probably going to be headlining a Comedy Central special in the not-too-distant future, really all that much of a risk on your part?
Don’t think about it too hard. The answer is no, and the promise of Conquistadork is that you will not be disappointed.
Phil Keeling, Conquistadork: A-