Kevin Hart does not need to apologize to anyone. At least, that’s what he spends an hour trying to convince us of in his new Netflix comedy special, Irresponsible. Filmed in London’s O2 Arena, Hart struggles to find his footing in the massive venue, repeating set-ups in the opening minutes like he can’t quite remember which joke he’s trying to open with. Built around the concept of being an irresponsible person, Hart segues into jokes about his kids walking in on him mid-coitus and what a pain in the ass it is to win back his wife’s trust after cheating on her. It’s exactly the kind of disconnected, infantile point of view that feels archaic/tired in the age of Trump.
While some laughs do eventually come, they’re the kind that leaves a bad taste in your mouth — stadium-sized humor that coasts on the popularity of the performer but is poised to age badly à la every Tim Allen comedy special ever. To be fair, with Netflix specials sprouting faster than a Sicilian grandpa’s nose hairs, it’s hard to tell which will stand the test of time. Lucky for you, we’ve watched every single one of them. Here are our top three picks from the class of recent graduates.
This may be her best special yet. With a casual, devil-may-care delivery, Schumer dishes out jokes with the off-handed precision of an old friend. Her pregnancy adds new layers to her typical raunchiness, anchoring it with glimpses of honesty and depth lacking from her earlier work. It’s fun, easy, and hopeful: just like hanging out with your bestie from college who happens to be going through the biggest change of her life.
Appearing onstage like a young Conan O’Brien, Acaster’s quirky, off-beat, and totally home-grown comedy feels like we stumbled reluctantly into the weird shoe-box theater around the corner only to discover a secret gem hidden there. When most stand-ups take a year to hone enough material for an hour-long special, this young Englishman debuted on Netflix with four distinct sets.
While the breadth of this special can languish at times, the sheer inventiveness of it wins out. Acaster is full of ideas and idiosyncrasies — with so many heavyweights releasing specials right now, here is a newcomer to watch.
Everybody Loves Raymond couldn’t have been more wrong. Most of us loathed the show that dominated prime syndication spots between doing stuff all day and dinner. But Ray Romano has increasingly reinvented himself in roles from Vinyl to the Big Sick, showing us that he’s a little edgier than we all thought. Edgy like the way goose feathers sometimes stick out of a down pillow.
His first-ever hour-long special delivers just like that, a soupy base of PG-rated, family friendly material sprinkled with an F-bomb and a few mature ‘I’ve-smoked-a-joint-with-a-stripper-in-Nevada’ squints of the eye. The special, filmed in real time between the new Comedy Cellar and the old one (with a quiet New York stroll in between) showcases a man who can really make an audience laugh (in an understated way).
The sum of it adds up to a solid, heart-warming hour of decent-sized laughs. Ray Romano is the Honda Odyssey of comedians.
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