We had to begin our first 2013 conversation with comic singer/songwriter Scott Gesser by following up on his New Year's resolution for 2012. So did he, as he vowed from Soul Invictus' stage in November 2011, get more pussy in the new year?
"Probably about the same amount," Gesser tells Up on the Sun. "It's nice being in a relationship, because you always know who to ask. I'm actually doing a duet with her." (The fully clothed, musical type of duet, we figure.)
Gesser's performed his funny, often somewhat obscene songs to warm up audiences for Th [sic] Sense sketch comedy troupe for some time now, so he's not feeling ordinary stage fright about returning to Soul Invictus for this weekend's solo show, I'll Be Your Beard. He does have a couple of concerns, though: "It definitely is a bit nerve-wracking with new material, because it isn't funny to me at this point." Having spent two months polishing an all-new set list, Gesser's looking forward to a live audience sharing his energy and injecting their reactions to humorous and surprising moments of the performance.
In stereotypical self-deprecating-comedian fashion, Gesser's traditionally fallen back on talking up the other performers on the bill, but he's had to step out of that comfort zone. "This is one of the first shows I've done where I'm not promoting myself in conjunction with anything else. It's really weird to do that -- I don't want to have too big an ego, but it's weird to say, 'I'm really awesome and you should spend your time and money on it.'
"I've got co-workers coming, and that's actually kind of frightening. [On Facebook I see that] there's actually someone I don't know coming. But I think the show is great and people should come if they like that kind of comedy."
What kind is that? "I would say probably 'delightfully offensive acoustic standup.' I always tell people that I apologize in advance for everything I say.
"I got very inspired by some of the musical comedy I've been listening to lately. There's a comedian named Stephen Lynch I would recommend . . . to anyone with a pulse." The unexpected twists that lead to non sequiturs, paraprosdokians, or even punch lines in Gesser's songs and chat also call to mind classic weirdos like Emo Philips, Stephen Wright, and the late Mitch Hedberg.
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Recordings of Gesser's oeuvre that are currently available online don't do him justice, only partly because hearing the songs without the "banter" can be starkly off-putting (also, he's ramped up both his writing and performing skills tremendously in the past few years). A new album, also called I'll Be Your Beard, will be available at the shows.
"Technically, as far as comedic CDs, this'll be the third, and probably the first where I'm not totally embarrassed by the production values," he says. "Totally my fault -- I record them out of my office." But I've been wowed by Gesser live several times, and I recommend you snap up tickets to the very small venue while they're still available. I'll Be Your Beard occurs at 8 p.m. Friday, January 18, and Saturday, January 19, at 1022 Grand Avenue. Admission is $15, with $10 advance tickets available here. Call 602-214-4344 for more information.