Lucas Brothers: On Drugs

The Lucas Brothers are identical twins who live in Brooklyn. They previously made an animated show together called “Lucas Bros. Moving Co.” This is their first Netflix special.  

The special starts with a clip of Richard Nixon launching an offensive on drugs. Then we see the brothers light up a joint and go to start their show. They walk up pretty slowly, and on stage where there are cardboard cutouts of Richard Nixon. The background of the stage is a repeating background of Nixon in blue-tints. The setup is a lot. I often found myself staring into the eyes of Richard Nixon while listening to the jokes. There are some little touches on this theme as well — each of them has buttons supporting anti-Nixon causes. 

The twin dynamic brings a lot to their comedy. A punchline can pack so much more punch when one of the twins gives a quick “yep” or “okay” right after the other delivers the punchline. It also lets them tell jokes through conversation. “Did that joke work?” “No, let’s update the punchline.” In another joke, one brother stares at the ceiling trying to think up a punchline until the other asks, “What’s up, man?” But their personalities are similar, so it’s a conversation about building, not really about disagreeing. 

Most of my favorite jokes they tell start from a small story. They talk about how their drug dealer is a feminist and made them watch a WNBA game. I love these jokes because they’re so unexpected and are such a weird intersection of things. Just in this one joke, they’re talking about drugs, basketball, feminism, and an annoying dude. 

With all their jokes about drugs and their different delivery style, they come off as very alt. They’re also low-energy. Some of their biggest moments on stage are in relation to each other. When the special starts, one of the twins walks in a circle around the other twin. There are moments where a twin will ‘toss’ a joke to the other twin. I’ve never seen anything like these twins. I think everyone should watch this special just to get a feel for what these two can do on stage. It’s interesting to see how stand up is different when two people are acting as one. 

Bert Kreischer – Hey Big Boy

Bert Kreischer – Hey Big Boy

Bert Kreischer, a big bubbling man I heard about in the way that one should hear about Bert Kreischer, from an annoying drunk man in front of a bar. “He’s the funniest comic!” this drunk man told after he saw that I had signed up for an open mic. “He takes his shirt off” It was with these words that I began to suspect that Bert Kreischer was not for me. Which is a little judgmental. 

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Demetri Martin – Live (at the time)

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Demetri Martin is known for his tight jokes that focus on wordplay. He tends toward being more family friendly than not. This is Martin’s sixth, out of seven Cd/specials. He’s seasoned and been putting out comedy specials in a consistent manner for over a decade by this point. He’s done some movies and is a voice on the kid’s show We Bare Bears.

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Demetri Martin – The Overthinker

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This special opens with Demetri Martin saying something about “being the best improv ever” and then going into his jokes, about squirrels always thinking they’re late for something. Then you hear his internal monologue as he comments on his name and title appearing on the special. It’s a simple effective way to start this comedy special in medias res. Martin wears a simple black shirt with black jacket and jeans. The background is a kind of rustic looking solid red. It’s very smooth, and Martin pops off the background.

There is a segment where he does drawings. He doesn’t do this every special, but the way it’s incorporated is a little bit different, as he both has the white pad, and uses some drawing edited in post. The first jokes of these have Martin showing us various alphabet letters with people drawn around them. The M made into open legs, the W made into a fallen man, the A made into an– Asshole. It’s a witty and inventive joke that is firmly in martin’s wheelhouse. There are very inventive parts where he cuts out various shapes in the paper and only flips over half a paper. There are flowcharts to express complicated wordplay. These jokes will be polarizing, some people will feel that it’s a churches to stand up comedy, but I find these to be very inventive and interesting and a lot of possibilities to jokes.

One of my favorite jokes in this special is about cruise ships. My favorite part is when he talks about how it would suck to die drawing on a cruise ship, as in drowning in the pool on the cruise ship. “He drowned in the pacific ocean? No he drowned on pacific ocean” during this joke there is a pop up of other shitty ways to die. Once again this joke showcases the turn of language that Martin is excellent at, while being silly and accessible to most every english language speaking person.

This special has a feature where Martin will ‘think’ during it. It is a voice over of his voice own during certain jokes. One example is when he takes a drink of water, and comments on it. It is unclear to me if this is happening during the live event as well, or not. He doesn’t do it enough to really make it a true different experience for the show. It’s just kind of randomly inserted into some jokes.

He also does a few jokes with a guitar. A staple for a lot of his specials. These are quick one liner jokes, that don’t as far as his other material. They’re just quick in and out. Right after the guitar bit there is a silly bit about the using the mic stand as a metal detector.

This special is good, and solid. It’s not the most far out Martin has ever been, but it is firmly himself. His earliest special “If I” still has a similar feel. But that has more risks, goes further. But it has less jokes. The overthinker shows that Martin can put out specials at a consistent rate and still be solid, if not exceptional comedy. I think if this were the first Martin special you had seen, it could be like “Whoa! This guy has no bounds!” but he’s built up to this point consistently, and made it part of his style, so it’s not so surprising now.

John Mulaney – The Comeback Kid

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This is John Mulaney’s second recorded special. It starts with a few overshots of New York, and then we see him address his dog Petunia in the dressing room. The dog speaks to him in a silly voice. This special came out in 2015, and I wasn’t a huge stand up comedy fan back then. I was in college and only ever went to stand up comedy that happened on campus, but I would watch a ton of comedy on Netflix. I wish I could go back and see what was on Netflix in 2015, because I know I watched John Mulaney, Gary Gulman and Eugene Mirman, but who did I not watch? Did they have specials more like Bert Kirshner or Joe Rogan?

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Sam Jay – 3 In The Morning

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Sam Jay had a great first album “Donna’s Daughter,” it’s great to see someone like her get a Netflix special. Someone young, black and queer. Jay is cool and young, and feels like a strong middle ground between alternative comedy and club comedy.

The special has a ton of warm colors. There is an orange glow across the stage. The stage is a classic black curtain that is highlighted with the orange light. Jay wears a busy polo that has black and yellow stripes and a line of numbers diagonally across the front and a large brown patch on the back of the shirt. The collar looks like corduroy. It’s a fun shirt that fits well with the color palette of the special. Some of the camera work is a little shaky, but it often cuts particularly close to Jay’s face during these moments, which let’s viewers focus on small facial expressions.

She opens with a joke about how she’s in Atlanta, and the place she’s performing is close to where she’ picked up the last guy she was with. This leads her into talking about how much she hates dicks, and eventually getting to a part that’s in the trailer for the special about her going everywhere with her girlfriend. Even in this opening part, there is an effortlessness in how she’s able to transition between ideas and jokes.

She’s able to bring in important ideas and bring them to the same level as her personal stories without lessening the idea or feeling preachy. She talks about how representation matters, and makes a joke about how she thought the only way to be a black dyke was to be on crack.

An overarching element of the special is that she’s traveling to Europe with her girlfriend. She tells a story about taking mushrooms and then going to a museum, then on the ride back, a cab driver comments on her american accent. Then she says she wouldn’t defend america. “We’re better than Trump? We’re a country of Golden Corral Buffets”

She has a longer bit about how we need trans women because they will be the women to join the NFL. There is obviously no ill will intended in the bit, but it doesn’t really come off well. I have never seen a comic, including a gay comic, who wasn’t trans who has benefitted from centering a joke on trans people. She then does a joke about why she’s not a feminism, and makes a joke about finding Me too being silly after Aziz Ansair’s story happened. These are very politically charged topics that anyone in the audience will have opinions already. I don’t think that Jay articulates a opinion that seemed necessary to comment on either situation, though the Ansair joke is a stand out from this section.

Sam Jay shows a lot of promise, and is very engaging. There are few true laugh out loud moments in the special and steam runs low towards the middle of the show. The trans and feminism bit is distracting to her overall charm.

3 out of 5 stars.

Gary Gulman – In This Economy

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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.

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Eric Andre – Legalize Everything

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Eric Andre is a wild energy, known for his show on adult swim. He’s unlike anything else, and it’s great. But if you look at his earlier stand up before he did the show, it’s not super impressive. His show is full of hilarious antics that are surprising, and push the envelope on what we can do in comedy. He’s very liberal, but is willing to make jokes that don’t necessarily easily fit in with the liberal politics that our facebook feeds are full of.

The set up of the special is relatively simple: Andre has two stools on stage. One for his water and towel– which he needs, and another that he sits on at various points. Andre wears a pink shirt, and grey sweatpants, a very low key look. The background is a brown grey, with lights at the back bottom of the stage. The audience is a stage seating, much like the mercury ballroom in my city, Louisville. You have people standing on the second level, which adds a sense of energy, and makes the room feel really full like it’s a party.

There is a lot of drugs and sex material. “We have arrived at the bukake part of the set” and then people high five, and pump their fists. I don’t know what bukake is, but he explained. A lot of feels like the same old same old drug and sex stuff you’ve heard or seen on the interent for years, but Andre has mor energy than anyone you’ve seen. His comedy looks like a workout. When he says he popped a blood vessel in asshole you kind of believe it. There is a point where Andre tells us that he wanted to open the show by doing a Louie CK, and just come on stage and start mastbating on everyone. This is Andre at his best, making fun of the shitties people, in a wild over the top way. It’s both a little violent, but it’s violence is used to point out the shittesness of that guy.

There is a point where he asks anyone if they’ve seen their parents fuck. Some folks raise their hands, and Andre focuses on one guy and gives him a mic and asks him for the story. The guy says a few things, not much, and then Andre brings an older couple on stage. They start ripping each other’s clothes out and making out. It doesn’t go much further than that, but it’s a fun moment in the special. It could have gone further, maybe in the none filmed version he take it further and you got to see those older people fuck. As it is, it’s a silly moment that doesn’t really go anywhere, even though it’s full of wild energy. I wish that elerly couple really fucked.

This special is wild, and I don’t think it’s a great stand up, but it does make me want to be in that room. It makes me want to go see him, just to be around the people who would go see Eric Andre– that’s where I might find a cool person to date, even if I can’t whole hearted clap when he’s like “Where my weed smokers at!” The special is part wild kegger energy, and part millennials liberal lecture. But mostly it just makes me want more of Eric Andre’s antics, which don’t always translate smoothly to stand up comedy.

John Mulaney – Kid Gorgeous at Radio City

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This is John Mulaney’s newest stand up special. Does Mulaney even do stand up any more? It would be terrible if he didn’t, he was always the best. But even before Covid19, the only ever time I’d see him do a show was when he was canceling his Toronto shows. His light touch with flamboyant expressions would be a blow to stand up comedy if it were gone. This special has Mulaney returning to themes of childhood, while also tackling new arenas, like politics.

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Marc Maron – End of Times Fun

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Marc Maron has a new Netflix comedy special! It’s low key, with mellow energy and has more interesting ideas than really great jokes. But it’s nice. Obviously Marc Maron is better known for other things than his stand up. He does his podcast, which I only listen to when there are guests I really really love– like St. Vincent. He is also great in the Netflix show Glow, when I first saw him I didn’t recognize him, but also I wasn’t into comedy so I wasn’t looking for him.

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