Gary Gulman In This Economy was one of the first comedy specials I remember watching. It was on Netflix early when it had first started it’s digital service. This special opens with just an announcer going “Gary Gulman” and then he starts his set. BAM! Quick! There is a very short animation that lasts about a second. There is no long sketch that sets up the special, no documentary thing, just BAM start. Just going into comedy. Gulman immediately gets to one of his best jokes, about blockbuster. This joke was so successful that it kind of permeated culture. People who don’t know that joke reference that joke. There is a lot to this joke– including the title drop– “In this economy it should be illegal not to be watching something.” This is also where Gulman talks about watching documentaries– saying that he believes that Netflix thinks his genre in animal cruelty. I remember so much of the ideas of this special, without remembering the actual jokes he made.
For this special Gulman wears a purple shirt that is often distractingly large on him. The background is that of a large coin cut into five points. It is a theatre seating. I saw Gulman at a theatre a while ago, and I have seen him at a Comedy Cellar in New York City. He did fine both times. I like Gulman’s specials, but to me he’s a comic that is better at a special than he is at live comedy. He doesn’t have that ability to bring a room together in a way that makes have that special comedy feeling. But he’s one of the best writers around and is able to craft humor out of the smallest moments of his jokes. “If I’m goin to eat Mike and Ikes, I’m going to eat Mike and Ikes the same way a petting zoo llama would eat his Mike And Ikes” it’s the repetition of the Mikes and Ikes, and it’s the image of Gulman the llama. It’s Gulman just noticing and commenting on the candy machines in the front of the store. But he’s in his head. It doesn’t have that electric energy that Dave Ross would have.
Another joke that I loved as a kid was about seeing a discman in the gym. He tells us that he had a discman and paid 188 dollars for it. He goes on about the bass boost, along with the other features of the discman. His belittlement toward the discman is so silly. Everytime I hear this joke I always think about my time with a cd player– which I assume is the same as a discman– just listening to it on the bus going home from school. Getting the most out of my double A batteries.
This is one of my favorite specials. I have a lot of nostalgia for it. A lot of jokes on this album perfectly encapsulate the times without discussing anything especially about the time– no politics or anything. The attitude towards discmans, and the strong collective memory of blockbuster are refreshing for comedy spaces. There is aggression– but it’s only towards inanimate objects. There are harsh opinions towards silly things.