One of the greatest accomplishments for a stand-up comedian is to have an hour of material recorded and released as a special. It’s a time capsule of all the memories and experiences the comedian lived through while piecing together, minute by minute, an hour of his or her best comedy. Dallas native Aaron Aryanpur released his newest time capsule, his second stand-up comedy album, Employee of the Day, from Stand Up Records last week.
Aryanpur continues to elevate his comedic skills with his sophomore album, delivering sharply personal observations with a disarming humility that endears him to his audiences. There’s a meticulous aspect to Aryanpur’s writing, an ability to layer complex emotions relatably and humorously without sacrificing the honesty of his intent. His polished delivery disguises the difficult balancing act of confessional emotion and comedy, and his success in doing so is a credit to his talent.
With audiences finding more of comedy on streaming services such as Netflix, comedians are forced to re-examine the significance of the traditional comedy album. The decline of record sales as a whole has been drastic in the age of Spotify, but comedy was already a fairly niche market to begin with. Aryanpur’s first album, In Spite Of, went to No. 1 on the iTunes comedy albums chart and the top 10 of the Billboard comedy albums list.
“I like comedy albums,” Aryanpur says. “I like being able to throw something in my earbuds. I like polished material. I mean, I like podcasts and stuff off the cuff, too, but … I don’t know. I hope there’s a market for it.”
Aryanpur has built up an impressive resume with his stand-up. In the last five years, he’s appeared on Fox’s Laughs, been a semifinalist in Comedy Central’s Up Next Talent Search, won the Funniest Comic in Texas competition and was named Dallas Observer's best comedian of 2017. He’s also an accomplished artist with the “Next Window Please” comic strip that he releases each week.
“In my mind, I’ve got like this shelf, like this imaginary shelf, and it’s filled with stuff that I put out in the world," he says. "Here’s a couple of comedy albums, here’s a comic strip collection, here’s a kid’s book, here’s whatever. And in my head, I’m not done until this shelf is full. And while I’m working on what I’m working on, this comedy stuff is starting to fill up the shelf a little.”
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In Aryanpur’s latest time capsule are memories of his father, who died after Aryanpur recorded the album at Hyenas’s Dallas. The comic often speaks of his father during his act, and the deep amount of love and respect he has for his dad is woven throughout Employee of the Day. The album explores fatherhood from both sides — of being a son hopeful to please his dad and having a deeper understanding of the role as a father himself.
“The album feels lighter,” Aryanpur says. “A lot of it ended up being like a love letter to my father. The track about my dad that inspired the sarcastic title, I mean, like the title comes from that track. I originally played around with a bunch of different photos, and I found a photo of my brother and I dressed up as my father and his Church’s Chicken manager whatever, and so that ends up being the illustration on the cover design. I like that I’m able to talk about my dad before knowing anything’s happening.”
Aryanpur is already at work writing and testing material for his planned third album with Stand Up Records, but for the moment, he’s enjoying seeing his wor, and his memories shared with comedy fans everywhere.
“I’m happy that I’m adding more stuff," he says. "I don’t feel apologetic about it. I’m not sheepishly asking people to give it a listen. I think it’s good stuff, and I know that I’m also in the middle of doing good work.”