Stand-up Comedy on Netflix

Now that I have Netflix, I’ve been watching quite a bit of it. When I subscribed to it, I had begun Masters of Sex and I was enjoying it a lot so I finished all three seasons of it through Netflix. I saw the second season of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It was fun. It was funny. But it wasn’t something that would stay with me forever. It was a good way to kill twenty minutes of time.

My biggest mistake was spending so much time watching Hemlock Grove. That was a total waste of time. Not the first season, though. The first season was sort of enjoyable. I watched it just for Famke Janssen. I had fun watching it but the moment the second season started, I should have just switched it off and looked for something else to occupy my time with. It was horrible. And I slogged through the damn thing and made it to the third season. By the time I was on episode six or seven, I was, like, “What the fuck am I doing?” I wasn’t enjoying the show anymore since the second season began and I went through sixteen or seventeen episodes of shit. That’s how much I love Famke Janssen. Not even she could save that horrendous script. It was a disaster. I never finished it.

What I did get into were the comedy specials. I started watching their stand-up comedy specials. I saw Confirmed Kills and Freezing Hot by Iliza Schlesinger. I loved her. She’s hilarious and I love her energy. I love her comic flow and how animated she is and how physical her comedy can be. I really end up laughing out loud.

Screen Shot 2016-10-18 at 9.28.21 PM.png

just a screenshot of my Netflix account — opened up to the first page when I click “Stand-up Comedy”

I saw Jen Kirkman’s I’m Going to Die Alone (And I Feel Fine), which made me laugh a little bit but I found myself resistant to her brand of comedy. I wasn’t synching in with her pacing. It’s a totally different style from Iliza Schlesinger. Schlesinger is more what I expect from a stand-up comic. I like it fast and hard hitting. If they are going to move in a languid pace, like Jen Kirkman does, then I need the jokes to be really funny or the thoughts should be really thought provoking, which wasn’t how I felt about her work.

I also took a look at Bo Burnham’s show Make Happy. I don’t know why. I had just finished watching Iliza Schlesinger’s Freezing Hot and it was the option that was placed right beside hers and there was something about it that said, “Go for it.” So I did.

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.

I don’t know if I liked the show or not. It was strange. It wasn’t the stand-up routine that I’m used to. I’ve seen on video the full shows of comics like Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Lois Blomfield, several shows of Eddie Izzard, and a few more shows here and there. I liked their pace. I liked the way that they either make you laugh like crazy or sit up and think, with this smile on your face, and really just feel like something opened up inside of you.

Bo Burnham wasn’t at all like that. He had some funny moments but there was a lot of dead air as well. He was very confrontational and he was gearing up to something and I couldn’t really find myself jiving with him. I was resisting him the whole way through. Every ten minutes, I felt like turning it off and going back to the menu, but something kept me going. Something told me he was going to deliver something great. And I can’t imagine what that was because there were some good moments and the rest was just off. The pacing was disjointed, there was a bit too much self-awareness, and it was very meta, which he even mentioned twice, and it confirmed my suspicions but it also validated that he was doing something special.

And then he sings this song:

And I lose my shit. Like, literally, I went nuts. It had a great melody and it was fun to sing to and the words were really hitting home. It was clever. It was funny. And it felt true. And I felt so strongly about this song. Lower Your Expectations/If You Want Love felt like he wrote this song just for me.

So I kept watching it and I found myself loving it so much when it’s good but hating it when it isn’t, which is probably 70% of the time. But then he does his finale, which just blew my mind all over again, and then an encore song at the end and I was just perplexed exactly at what I felt about what I had just watched.

I liked what I liked but there was a lot I didn’t like. I felt very strongly when he ripped out the veneer in a long monologue that was not meant to be funny, and it wasn’t, but it was pretty strong and hard-hitting. It was honest and raw and it stirred something in me.

It is such a strange frame for a show.

Entertainment is changing. I have to open my definitions of everything because everything is evolving and the next generations are doing amazing, wonderful things with what we have come to know.

Is it the stand-up that I’m used to? Definitely not. Does it make his work any less incredible? Considering that he’s made me think about the work and I felt moved by what I just saw. There’s something there, for sure.

I’m so happy to have Netflix. When it comes to decisions, this was one of the best I’ve made yet.


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