No Cure For Cancer

Denis Leary

A & M Records, 1993

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Denis Leary, I love ya. You came onto the scene so unexpectedly, with your stream-of-consciousnness rants about anything and everything and turning the comedy world on its ear.

But Denis, I really gotta rip on ya and your 1993 debut No Cure For Cancer. Oh, it's not that I hate it - far from it. But it's incomplete.

After making a mark with his MTV spots and his fantasizing about Cindy Crawford, Leary brought his one-man show to the small screen and released the soundtrack from the same show. As a bonus, No Cure For Cancer includes a studio version of "Asshole," the song he used to open the show, as well as two other tracks,"Traditional Irish Folk Song" and "Voices In My Head." These last two are kind of throwaways - especially when you discover that there's material missing from the live rant.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It's not uncommon for comics to release shorter versions of their shows on the corresponding album. Robin Williams did it, Dennis Miller did it - why not Leary?

But when you watch the full video of the show, you realize that what was left off was just as funny - and even moving. I really wish I had heard Leary's take on having children and the responsibility of being a parent when I received this in the mail some years back. ('Course, since Leary's act is just as much visual - you don't get to see him "die" at the end of the show - it pays to spend the $2 at Blockbuster to see this.)

Minor points aside, Leary proves himself to be both a powerful social critic who draws on his own life experiences as well as someone who looks at the world of political correctness and takes a leak on it. Whether it is his irreverent look at the world of drugs, of which he once was a part of, or it is a near-sacrilegeous comparison between Jesus Christ and Elvis (not postage-stamp Elvis), Leary is able to create mental pictures that make us laugh, make us think, shock us.

Some may brand Leary to be this generation's Lenny Bruce for generously peppering his routine with the word "fuck", but this comparison really isn't fair to either comedian. In a sense, Leary creates a caricature of himself on stage - I don't really believe he is as pissed-off of a person as he portrays. I think he just channels his disapproval of what he sees to create his character.

Be warned, though, that No Cure For Cancer is a brutally honest delivery of standup comedy and social commentary, and remains one of the finest comedy albums I have ever heard. I have yet to pick up his latest release, Lock 'N Load, but if it is anything like his first effort, I am sure I will be as entertained and disturbed as much as the first time.

But Denis, next time, please think about putting the whole routine on!

Rating: A-

User Rating: B+



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of A & M Records, and is used for informational purposes only.