Live at Carnegie Hall

by: Ray Romano

Everybody Loves Raymond, which began a lengthy stay in network prime time in 1996, is yet another in the endless string of half-hour situation comedies built around the talents of a standup comic, in this case Ray Romano. So, it stands to reason that if you enjoy the show, you'll enjoy this album (released to coincide with the start of the show's sixth season), which is based on the same sensibility. Romano begins by using an adjectival variant on the "F" word to express his wonder about appearing at Carnegie Hall. (The word is bleeped out even though everyone knows what he's saying, as a means of avoiding a parental advisory sticker -- rather like television, that.) His humor touches on enough risqué subjects to earn the album at least the equivalent of a PG-13 movie rating, but he is far from being a shock comic. His jokes and stories arise out of domestic situations, especially marriage and children. Affectionate pecks at his wife, funny observations about his children, and occasional bits of self-deprecation, all spoken in the accent and vocabulary of a working-class man from the Northeast suburbs, make for a likable comedic sensibility that anyone in young middle age can identify with. Sounds like an ideal persona to build a situation comedy around, doesn't it? As he says at the end of the performance, "Keep watching." ~ William Ruhlmann

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