Why I Cannot “Recommend” Most Stand-Up Comedy Specials

Why I Cannot “Recommend” Most Stand-Up Comedy Specials

But I watch them all.

Today’s NETFLIX premiere of the new Jim Jefferies comedy special is hilarious. I laughed a lot. But it’s not safe, not all of his jokes are ‘ok’ enough for me to pass on this gem to loved ones. I’m not concerned about being offended with jokes, but I’m uncomfortable when some of his fan base is encouraged to laugh at issues that are objectively not funny. I haven’t been able to recommend a ton of specials lately. So many of the HBO ones are just …not funny. And when I do find one that’s funny, anywhere, I’ve noticed the safety of the jokes is …uneasy.

But I DID recommend a special recently. Nate Bargatze’s Amazon special IS FUNNY and almost entirely family friendly (https://natebargatze.com). And smart. And well-paced. It hits all of the right beats. And most importantly, it’s actually funny.

Click HERE To Watch On AMAZON

The problem is …you know what the problem is. Nate Bargatze isn’t pushing any ‘envelope’ and not pressing any issues. He’s just a funny guy. With a relatable yet old sense of stereotype that is promoted in his point of view. Yet with a GREAT deal of talent and experience. But Jim Jefferies is actually dangerous. Jefferies has a persona, pushes boundaries, and sneaks really wonderfully progressive thoughts into his darkest sets. The message is pretty great and he may even be changing a few minds on important topics. His influence in dark places rivals many other hailed comics who have blown their position over personal issues. He’s less safe, yet more progressive. And he’s going to reach more people with his hidden agenda because of his willingness to say jokes that are not safe.

I cannot support some specials because of their content. To be clear, I’ll watch them – which many consider to be a part of the problem. But it’s not.

Critical opinions are formed through exposure, education, and a history of a critical gaze. I’m not gonna stop watching a comic until they aren’t ‘funny’ and I’m gonna hold comics accountable for what they do put out into the world. I’m not excusing behaviors or influence. But my place in criticism is to evaluate how funny a comic is. Jefferies is funny. I wish I could reign in a few issues to make it safer for more people (I don’t care about sex, to be clear, I’m talking about promoting aggression towards Greta Thunberg). But comics who are really funny are going to take things too far. That’s just how comics operate… typically. If you aren’t ok with it, a comedy club isn’t a safe place for you to visit. But I do dream of a future where that’s not typical.

Click HERE To Watch On NETFLIX

Something I LOVE about this new crop of HBO and NETFLIX specials in particular is the sea of diverse voices and points of view. And if I watch a few unfunny specials in the name of trying out new faces – it is MORE THAN WORTH IT! I’ve discovered some amazing voices that wouldn’t have been discovered without a push to make sure we see people who are not just – white men with white friends. And, ya know what, these newer-to-specials voices are MUCH safer in general for audiences. But there aren’t enough truly mind-bogglingly funny newer-to-specials available yet. Newer-to-proper-exposure comics take time to develop.

I desire more comics to be developed to their potential. I want more. So just the funny ones will rise to the top. Here is a great example:

Click HERE To Watch On HBO

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