Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Not Quite A Limp Bizkit.


I first heard Henry Rollins doing a segment on a Chunklet Podcast. It consisted of a 5 minute long anti-Bono rant, recorded live in Dublin. It was, to me, exactly what Bill Hicks would think of Bono (an explosive, educated attack on his music and persona) and I decided that anybody who carried the Hicksian torch, without actually stealing the torch (Denis Leary) was fine by me. Little did I know that comedy was by no means his priority industry and that he's also one of America's biggest alternative/punk icons. So when I heard that he was to perform a "spoken word" show in Dublin (I think "spoken word" is a humble back-up in case somebody was to think that "comedy" is a bit of an arrogant tag), I was bought. I knew he'd make a refreshing change from the Irish (and surrogate Irish) "comedians" doing the rounds these days, who spend sell-out 20 night runs ridiculing the audience's hometowns.

During his 2.5 hour trek through the most topical current affairs and the most ridiculous tour stories, the crowd is rarely stuck for a laugh. Often, Rollins does actually become a spoken word performer but he is always enthralling as a storyteller. Highly educated and extremely literate and witty, he guides us through the state of America today as well as around the world with him as our guide. One story of interest is the tale of his jaunt down-under to perform at the Big Day Out festival, where his in-flight reading resulted the man sitting next to him reporting him to the government as a suspected terrorist.

His more graphically obscene side comes out during his description of a week he decided to spend on the Trans-Siberian Express out of boredom. The below-zero weather conditions results in the freezing of the patrons' waste ("Satan's popsicle") and he must look on as the horribly rude lady member of staff cleans the toilets with an icepick. Later, the "fish" dinner forced into him by said member of staff is disposed of orally. His reasoning behind his fascination with the resulting mess is that "we only ever see the A and the Z of digestion...never the LMNO". To the crowd's glee, he then tells us that he ate a carrot which was an ingredient of this mess. He informs us that, to a cheapskate like him, eating this regurgitation twice is a massive victory.

The rest of his set is littered with pop culture references. He talks about Iggy Pop, the White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys ("every interview I do ends with 'So what do you think of Arctic Monkeys?'") and the recent overreaction with regard to Oprah Winfrey's book club scandal.

Very well read and thoroughly educated, Rollins is a joy to witness. With almost a dozen spoken word albums to his name, he really has an opinion on anything and everything and should be listened to with eager ears.

His official website/publishing company.

A few Rollins' quotes.

His online journal.

Popmatters Interview
Good article from December 2005.

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