Hofstetter’s comedy album intermittently funny, consistently button-pushing

By Larissa Gula

Steve Hofstetter

Pick Your Battles

Next Round Entertainment

Grade:… Steve Hofstetter

Pick Your Battles

Next Round Entertainment

Grade: B-

Can the tragic death of someone hit and killed by a car while texting be funny?

“You know the person on the other end of the text message was pissed off he wasn’t responding.”

Well, you decide.

This is one of many controversial lines from Steve Hofstetter’s comedy stand-up show Pick Your Battles, which features political and social humor that’s likely to entertain many who appreciate the comedian’s style of delivery, but is just as likely to make a couple of listeners frown.

Hofstetter’s album chooses to provide comedy by waging war on random topics, with each track titled, “The War On (Insert Topic Here).” Texting, bad tattoos, cities and many other subjects are lampooned.

Most of his humor follows a pattern that sounds logical and intelligent, although whether people will ever agree with anything he says is another matter. For example, “Every guy thinks he’s better than average in the bedroom. And half of you are wrong. Because that’s how math works.”

But more conventional jokes like this one come later, because Hofstetter launches straight into his routine with two tracks on abortion. This is the first sign that the entire show is a comedy act people will either love or hate. If anything, it feels as if this topic drags on too long, and the humor during this section is his weakest. Accordingly, the album starts slowly and sometimes painfully. But even the comedian acknowledges this, stating during the recording, “You’re not all with me. That’s okay. You’re not all going to be with me.”

The humor picks up once this subject is dropped, and Hofstetter finds keen observations to make about shopping centers, gender, dating and more. The final track is “The War On Steve Hofstetter,” in which the comedian interacts with and answers silly questions from an easygoing audience.

Nevertheless, the flow of the show is a bit bumpy. Hofstetter’s disorganized style makes it difficult to tell when one sketch ends and another begins, and sometimes even he seems to lose track of what he’s trying to say, losing the joke along the way.

Another flaw with any CD version of a comedy show is the loss of interaction — the mood of a room of laughing people cannot be adequately replicated with a recording.

Overall, though it sometimes feels like jokes are forced, it’s enlightening to hear someone’s opinion in a manner not intended to attack or demean. As Hofstetter himself says, “I’m trying to make you laugh. It’s a positive intent. You get offended by a joke, it’s an accident.”