Derek Sheen

  • Courtesy the artist
  • Derek Sheen

The most important thing a comedian can be is honest. When a comic exudes anything less than the real McCoy, discerning audiences are quick to detect bullshit. Luckily, Seattle native Derrick Sheen doesn’t have that problem—if anything, he has the opposite problem. On his debut album Holy Drivel (Rooftop Comedy Productions), Sheen overshares on some truly private subjects, and you can feel the audience sort of hold its breath whenever he starts a new bit, anticipating another highly personal confession or emotionally transparent diatribe. You might say Sheen is honest to a fault, but that’s not the case. As often as his crowd seems to brace for impact, they spend more time howling at his audacity. Sheen can be crude, but he’s never alienating or upsetting. He’s more often relaxed and off-the-cuff, reminiscent of Brian Posehn in both his delivery and his lucid, streetwise worldview.

Throughout Holy Drivel, a title that suggests he also shares Posehn’s interest in heavy metal, he nimbly reveals Disneyland’s underlying cynicism, the kind that doesn’t reveal itself until you’ve visited the Happiest Place on Earth as a jaded adult; the way he compares Portland’s twee whimsicalities and Seattle’s stuffy self-seriousness will ring true for those who’ve spent time in the Pacific Northwest, or at least watched an episode of Portlandia. His best moments, though, come when he dovetails casual observations with blunt confessions. On the Holy Drivel track “The South,” he jokes about southern obesity, admitting that he was once so dangerously overweight he avoided wearing laced shoes for fear of having to bend over to tie them. Things only get more humiliating from there—as you can imagine, the comic’s weight problem would go on to create more problems than mere footwear fiascos—but he’s so jovial and unashamed that it’s impossible to feel unmoved. Chances are Sheen has a few more woefully hilarious tales to share now that he’s prepared to record a new album at Comedians You Should Know, the ideal space for a rocketing up-and-comer like him.

Wed 6/24-Thu 6/25, 9 PM, Comedians You Should Know, 622 N. Fairbanks, 312-642-0700,, $10, $5 in advance