Lonely Island debut disappoints

By Evan Minsker

It was December 2005 when a few friends and I were watching an episode of “Saturday Night Live.” At this point, I was one of the few in the room who had faith that the show could still be funny after the departure of Will Ferrell. Then, an SNL Digital Short called “Lazy Sunday” aired.

The short, which was crafted by Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, totally changed the face of “SNL.” It was hysterical (the first few times). Since then, Samberg, Schaffer and Taccone, who call themselves The Lonely Island, have crafted a plethora of hilarious digital shorts. The three released an album, Incredibad, which features songs from the SNL Digital Shorts, on Feb. 10.

Admittedly, I was nervous about the idea of a full-length album by The Lonely Island. It’s like listening to songs from “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” without watching the sketches. They’re still funny, but they lack a certain something.

Unfortunately, that’s the verdict for Incredibad. Songs like “Lazy Sunday,” “Natalie’s Rap,” “Space Olympics” and “I’m On a Boat” just aren’t funny without the videos attached to them.

Granted, the album does come with videos for most of the songs, which is nice. Still, why include them on the album at all? The boys just work better when they throw a viral video in the mix. If Incredibad was released exclusively as a CD/DVD, then I really wouldn’t have any reason to argue this point. However, the album is also available on vinyl. I sincerely see no reason to ever own the song “Ras Trent” on LP. It’s just not funny enough to stand on its own.

Aside from the “old favorites” on the album, there are a total of four original moments on the album that made me laugh out loud while riding the Red Line. There’s a fantastic song promoting Carlos Santana’s new champagne (“Santana DVX”), a love song turned Chex Mix advertisement featuring Norah Jones (“Dreamgirl”) and two men’s vendetta against denim (“Punch You in the Jeans”).

Incredibad‘s finest moment, however, comes during “Sax Man,” a collaboration they did with Jack Black. The song starts out with an early ’90s backbeat. Then, Black comes in with some tacky ’90s R&B vocals, hyping up the awesome skills of this saxophone player. He finishes a verse by singing, “Take it, sax man!” Then, there are a couple of quiet, apprehensive sounding notes coming from a saxophone. It turns out that he’s feeling shy because of all the hype he’s received in the previous verse. The results are hilarious.

Most songs on the album feel like they would be three times funnier if they were supported by a video. “Boombox,” a cautionary tale about the misuse of a boombox inducing the libidos of the elderly, is sort of funny. Still, it didn’t make me laugh out loud. Throw in some visuals, and there’s comedy gold in there.

The album ends with “Incredibad.” The song is about the three men at the age of 13, discovering their manhood through an alien. It’s pretty disgusting.

Incredibad is only a few missteps away from turning into Jimmy Fallon’s The Bathroom Wall. If it wasn’t for a couple great moments on The Lonely Island’s debut and Norm MacDonald’s 2006 album Ridiculous, I could deduce that sketch comedy albums from the days of Cheech & Chong are dead. Still, this album is perfect for iTunes: Buy the funny original numbers like “Sax Man” and save SNL Digital Shorts like “Space Olympics” for Hulu or YouTube.