Taste This

by: Ellen DeGeneres

With the success of a hit sitcom and a number movies under her belt, Ellen returns to her roots in this recording of a stand-up comedy concert live at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts circa 1996. This is the Portland, Oregon concert, where, Ellen claims, she thought she was in Seattle the whole time. This album "came out" before Ellen Degeneres did on her show. There aren't any references to her sexuality on the recording. (In following concerts she seems to rely on this as a home base for her humor). Most of the Taste This humor centers the quietly-shocking absurd-little incongruencies and nuances life has to offer. Degeneres herself offers a unique blend of tangental, observational humor, coupled with a storytelling ability that supercedes most other comics. Ellen Degeneres is the to the 90's what Bob Newhart was to the 80's. One of her opening gags is about being dropped off at a factory when she was six years old to work. "I thought it was kindergarten," she delivers with the confidence of someone who is wearing their best "poker face". If Ellen were part of a comedic duo, she would definitely play the part of the "straight man". The crowd screams and howls at Ellen's subtle, understated style of humor, and the contrast between the vocal crowd and the reserved Degeneres is what makes for an interesting tension during the concert. This tension is also what makes her so funny. One cannot but help to titter with laughter at the set-up of her "serious" stories, and then to erupt at her off-the-wall punchlines. Particularly noteworthy material on this album is Ellen's bit on people who hunt deer because they're "such beautiful animals. "I think my mother is attractive, but I have pictures of her, "she quips. This is not to be outdone by her imitation of a stewardess' farewell "Buh-bye, uh, buh-bye," which has turned into somewhat of a national joke, with everyone in the country saying goodbye to their friends in a similar fashion. One last bit worthy of mentioning is Ellen's "Cat in Heat" trak. This hysterical story revolves around her cat putting on make-up and singing Tonight, Tonight like Maria from West Side Story. It ends with the cat's boyfriend sneaking in the apartment dressed as the cable guy. "He can't fool me..." she says smartly. The humor on this recording is not monumental, simply because of it's plum observational nature, but it is enjoyable and very easy to listen to. Fans will love it just because it's Ellen Degeneres. Everyone else, just for the pure easy-listening factor, will like it as well. ~ Sandy Lawson

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