'Tuned In' review: Comedian Vince Martin finds balance in the 'Middle'

Vince Martin's 'Live From the Middle'

Vince Martin's "Live From the Middle"

“Live From the Middle,” Vince Martin (Next Round Entertainment)

Comedian Vince Martin has relief for those still suffering from battle fatigue as a result of yet another year of polarizing political rhetoric.

His new “Live From the Middle” recalls what might be remembered as a kinder U.S.A., when political lines weren’t so rigidly drawn and Americans could choose their beliefs from both Column A and Column B and not have to subscribe, wholesale, to an extreme ideology.

At first, “Live From the Middle” might appear to be red-state oriented. The Oklahoma-based comic’s release has tracks with country-music-ish titles like “God Bless the USA,” “Small Town Saturday Night” and “Wal-Mart (Of Course)” as well as “Obamacare” and “Gay Marriage.”

But not so fast. The New Jersey native (a transplant to the Midwest) is an opportunist, as are many Americans from all points in the political spectrum, and his beliefs are self-serving — at least for the sake of comedy — as he espouses them superficially, albeit with an edge.

For instance, the straight comic supports gay marriage so he can keep his options open, just in case a Russian man wants to pay Martin to marry him to obtain a green card, because Martin could use the money to buy health insurance. He also thinks marijuana should be legalized because, “It would make my job a lot easier. ... If comedy clubs had a two-joint minimum, I’d be a millionaire.” Meanwhile, he’s pro-gun, though he whole-heartedly supports a law forbidding concealed weapons in comedy clubs: “I can handle a heckler, but a .380? Not so much.” And he scoffs at environmentally friendly vehicles with, “How am I supposed to have children if I’m driving around in a Kia Rio all day? ... Pretty girls are gonna (have sex with) the guy in the Escalade.”

Obviously “Live From the Middle” isn’t really about politics, and the casual-sounding comic (with great timing) makes that clear as he drifts into material about pampered kids, the effects of Jagermeister and the hazards of moving to tornado country. His easygoing style and the intimate Indianapolis club setting prove comforting, and his quirky, often blunt, points are universal for most Americans.

Maybe he should run for office.

Rating (five possible): 4

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