Louis Katz is tetchy. And a little abrasive. And way into dick jokes. Granted, you don’t need to listen to his whole comedy album, If These Balls Could Talk, to figure that out. Just look at the title. Beneath that hard exterior is, well, a hard interior. He’s not the kind of person you’d want as a life coach. But his comedic persona is pretty solid.
You can tell by all the jeering and audible back-talk from audience members, mostly when Katz tells a joke called “High School Girlfriend.” It starts with an anecdote about a religious girlfriend who never put out. “I’ve read the Bible,” he said, performing the bit at Sacramento Punch Line comedy club, where If These Balls was recorded. “And I know that no matter what, I could always just put it in her butt.”
Women giggled and men hooted in the audience. Katz continued: “W-W-J-D, A-N-A-L.” That’s the answer.” He paused a beat. “That’s true. Jesus would turn water into lube and fuck you in the ass.” Another pause. “I think that’s Corinthians, but I’m not sure.”
“Aw damn!” someone shouted. “Oh my god,” a woman moaned, seemingly on the verge of sobs.
As evidenced, Katz is a sassy pervert. He specializes in grotesque, clinical descriptions of sexuality and the human body. In his album opener, Katz describes large women as having “full body titties” — meaning tits and assets. His rather brutal portrait of a hippie roommate concentrates both on her smell (“like lamb shawarma,” because she used Crystal deodorant) and the soles of her feet (“pitch-black”). He treats bad breath as an invitation. He uses “stanky pussy” as a metric for comparing other stanky smells. “Tuna fish on wheat? No thanks. I’ll take rotten snatch on rye any day.”
He vividly discusses cunnilingus, ejaculation, nose-picking, in-grown hairs, rectal functions, butt pimples, and excessive masturbation “I had a masturbation problem — I’d jerk myself raw and get hard while trying to find the Neosporin.” For Katz, the human body is bizarrely sordid and virulently generative. Between moments of gross-out humor, he treats anatomical things as a muse. Fat women are “Rubenesque,” though when he takes off his glasses they’re more like an impressionist painting — meaning he can’t distinguish between water lilies and areoli.
Perversion is a well-ingrained trope in the alt comedy scene. Brent Weinbach launched his career with intellectual poop jokes. Moshe Kasher fixates on homosexuality, even though he’s not gay. Mary Van Note built her persona, in large part, on a contrived obsession with San Francisco ex-Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Louis Katz does dick jokes. His appearance (small guy, big glasses), his cranky intonation, and his priapic themes might lead a listener to take the album title literally. Yet the surface belies the substantive content underneath. Katz is a shock humorist, for sure, but he’s also the smartest guy in the room. And he alludes to that at least once on this album, when he makes the water lilies/aeroli analogy. “Didn’t get the ‘Rubenesque’ joke? You’re not gonna get that one,” Katz snidely remarks. “Fine.” (Comedy Central Records)