The cover of Tommy Ryman's debut album, Bathtime with Tommy Ryman (Stand Up! Records), features the Minneapolis comedy favorite naked in a sudsy tub. It's a strangely innocent image, like the kind of family artifact that parents use to blackmail their teenage children. That's not just because he sports a diminutive frame and a kind of childlike enthusiasm, it's a cheekily twee persona Ryman says he developed as a teenager, mostly to meet girls. "I knew I couldn't be the big muscley guy, so I had to up the sweetness factor. People say, 'Oh, he's so adorable, he can't do any harm.'" Now it suits him nicely onstage, belying a sharp intellect and a penchant for cutting sarcasm. His gentle absurdism and wide-eyed enthusiasm permeate Bathtime, an excellent record that showcases Ryman's ability to take an already-interesting premise and spin it, again and again, in surprising new directions. His concise writing and affable onstage demeanor have won him plenty of fans, including Nick Swardson and Maria Bamford, who have brought him along to open for them at theaters and arenas. This weekend's shows will serve as the official release of Bathtime.
Sept. 1-3, 8 p.m.; Sept. 2-3, 10:30 p.m., 2011