Kick Thy Own Self

Kick Album Cover "Kick" is Gardner's second recording, featuring musical interludes between his comedic monologues. Brother Dave    sings "When You're Smiling", "You're My Everything" and an indescribable "space music" medley. The album finishes with one of his drum compositions. Topics skewered by Brother Dave's wit include senate investigating committees, the race to the moon, cigarettes, talking to dogs and poverty! Several dialectical stories can be found here such as "the hainted house" and "money falls off trees in Chicago."
  • LPM/LSP - 2339
  • © 1960 Radio Corporation of America
  • Recorded live at The Tidelands, Houston, TX
"I'm a fanatic without a cause."
Liner Notes Transcribed by Gary Arnold
"What?" the man said, as he listened to the first few minutes of REJOICE, DEAR HEARTS! (RCA Victor LPM-2083). He sat there for a while, with a puzzled look on his jowly face, and then, switching off his phonograph, he buried his head in the sand. (He kept several big buckets of sand ready, always. With his kind of life, he needed them.)

The new wave of comedians puzzles these ostrich-people, who are used to the old one-liners, and the burlesque gag routines which were the mainstays of the night-club comics and TV funnymen for years after the bulls closed down the strip joints where they’d been born. But comedy now is a different thing. In night clubs these days you get group therapy, prayer meetings, sociological commentary. You get thinking. (Which is the last thing in the world I want," mumbles the man, hollowly, from the depths of his bucket.)

Dave Gardner, talking a smooth Southern-hip-universalist line, is about as think-y as they get. Or, to put it another way, he is stimulating, relevant, pointed – all the things that true wit has always been. Gardner himself is even more succinct about it. He flashes a huge smile, opens his big blue eyes, looks at you with this impossibly innocent face, and says, "I stir up snakes."

Gardner, now 33, made his professional debut twenty years ago as a drummer, moved on into comedy via scat-singing, and into some degree of national fame through extensive night club appearances – and, of course, the Jack Paar Show, where he has been a frequent guest.

"Brother" Dave’s humor, while it bears affinities to the work of other comics (And why shouldn’t it? They’re talking about the same problems, in the same world, and to the same people.) has a truly unique flavor. It borders on the metaphysical. He beats about the burning bush, or casually shoots the breeze about the great ethical problems of man – but subtly, subtly, so that you have to watch for it. His is about the unstuffiest kind of intellectualism around. Your know your mind is doing something, and you know you’re enjoying it, but it isn’t until later that you realize that you’ve been thinking.

It is really not at all necessary to have consciously addressed yourself to the problem of Masochism in Modern Man for you to be able to appreciate the new KICK THY OWN SELF. It is the old Gardner, off on new territory, wider than ever, and yet (rejoice!) the same.

And there is no question but that this kind of thing – Gardner’s kind of thing – is catching on. For the progressive, forward looking folks, this is just fine, and for enlightened conservatives, it is also fine. (After all, what did Will Rogers or Mark Twain use to do but stand up and think aloud in a fresh, bright way?) It is only the ostriches who feel ill at ease with Gardner, and the pity of it is that they’re the ones who really need him, because they’re the ones who least able to "dig" the real essence by themselves.

As Gardner has been telling us all along, "The search is the kicks, man, and complacency ain’t it!"

David R. Slavitt

Interesting Trivia By Perry Amberson
Stereo LP - Not just stereo, mind you, but "Living Stereo." RCA never adequately explained the difference to the world at large.
(NOTE: I don't happen to have a copy of the Fats Waller album cover to which the "Kick Thy Own Self" sleeve pays tribute, but if you can find it, it would make a nice addition to your site.)
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