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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Eddie Pepitone – For the Masses

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I have never heard of Eddie Pepitone before seeing a fellow comic make a post about how great this special is on Facebook. I have amazon, which this special is free on, and I wanted to watch something new, so here I am. And I agree with that Facebook comment, this was an unexpectedly great comedy special.

Eddie Pepitone is an older man, with a mangled set of teeth in his mouth. He has not been given a comedy special based on his marketability. He’s old, he’s overweight, he’s ugly, and his comedy isn’t’ the kind of easy to get into stuff that a Kevin Hart type can give. He’s angry and jarring and makes offhand comments about Dostoevsky. He makes fun of the middle states while complaining about the freeways of LA. On the stage behind him there are books scattered about. This is a semi-traditional look, that makes the special background feel kind of efforted to me. Did those books come from Eddie Pepitone? Are they just books by the yard thrown in the back to show off the vibe that Pepitone wants to give? Are they books that the theatre has for these special comedy moments? Maybe Pepitone requires a large amount of books to be placed behind wherever he performs comedy. That would be an annoying hassle.

Pepitone’s delivery is the work of a master. He goes from being angry and yelling to undercutting it with a passive calm voice. It’s great, immediately it’s unexpected, but the consistent ramping up and instant lower of the voice adds so much depth to the special. He’s angry, we all are, but he’s also thoughtful. His jokes go off into unexpected directions. He has a joke about how he supports the Me Too movement, because he wants people to stop propositioning him after shows. He tells a joke about his wife falling in love with him after he read a poem under her window, and then reads a Bukoski poem at full volume “THE FUCKING POST OFFICE IS A NIGHTMARE. I read that under her window and she was mine”

One of my favorite jokes has Pepitone saying that he wishes that Trump would just come out in Joker makeup, and slit his mouth like the Joker. That it would make more sense. Then he does, in a small Joker impression “Isn’t Betsy DeVos, wonderful, (Joker Laugh),” this line had hysterics. It’s the delivery where he does just the smallest impression, along with the inner anger of the content of the joke.

This is one of the best specials of the year. I haven’t heard Pepitone before but his delivery is masterful. He’s able to undercut himself without reducing his points. He feels so human on stage. The struggle he presents, of his internal debating, is so vividly and colorfully realized that you can’t help but to relate to some aspect of it.

For some reason there is a lot of technical information available about this special from the director and the cinematographer. It was shot with 6 cameras. You don’t usually get these kinds of details. It’d be nice to know what their sound system was.

Five out of Five

Myq Kaplan – AKA

Myq Kaplan needs a Netflix special by now. He’s consistently good, and consistently puts out new material. This year he has a new album out called “A.K.A”. This album is over an hour long. Each track has three subjects as the name, for instance “Religion, Science and Kanye” and “Nothing too political, Personal, Or Philosophical” most of the time these three ideas don’t seem related.

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Sean Patton – Scuttbutt

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Sean Patton is one of those guys who absolutely crushes every time you see him, but doesn’t hasn’t been picked up for anything big. He has a great stage presence and ability to bring a room together. He is originally from New Orleans and has been in comedy for well over a decade. He’s able to balance silliness and big energy without it coming off as grating or one dimensional. He’s jokes always feel fresh and like a new take. Scuttbutt is Patton’s second album, after 2012’s Standard Operating Procedure.

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Joel McHale – Live from Pyongyang

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Joel McHale definitely has more than a million dollars right? I mean there are a handful of jokes in this show that makes you think that. So I guess I’m good at writing less than stellar writing on this one. I didn’t enjoy Live from Pyongyang. I saw Joel McHale more than half a decade ago on the University of Kentucky’s campus, and remember being unimpressed, so I’m not totally unbiased. I don’t there is a ton of material here, and what is here is surface level comedy, or “Hey I remember when this funny thing happened.”

McHale stands in front of a green background, the kind of green my parents painted out in the living room. He’s real edgy like that. His hair is done up to make him look like a cartoon duck. The room feels pretty intimate and isn’t the usual theatre setting. Instead there looks to be tables and food available. He pops off the soft background, and green is relatively unused color for comedy specials.

Most of this special is just McHale recounting various shows he had good crowd work with. Look, we don’t want to hear about how you had a great comeback, we want to see that happen. If all these interactions happened, why doesn’t he just record more of his shows and make special that is just the best of those interactions, or at least post those as clips. Mostly, I think, it’s because they don’t happen. McHale tells that in Oklahoma he encounters a rowdy wounded vet who won’t stop talking during his show, and in Nashville the audience claps when he brings up that they were a slave state. These things don’t feel real. Maybe he had interaction like that with a wounded vet, but on stage? I don’t know. I do think this makes the special’s name into a joke. The special is shot in California, not Pyongyang, but him discussing all the various places he’s done comedy before led me to think that he was going to bring up international shows. This doesn’t happen. Part of why I watched this special is because I thought a special shot in an non-american city from an american stand up could be interesting. Sigh.

Later in the set, McHale discusses a time he was interviewed in LA, and the interviewer mistook him for Daniel Tosh. I think recognizing the similarities between the is essential for his special, as Tosh is more famous. But once again, he does it with a story that is performed as if it is grounded in reality but lacks the logic of reality. The funniest part of this story is that he admits that people mistake him for Daniel Tosh. That jokes shouldn’t take more than a moment to tell, and you’ve heard other comics tell at the top of their sets with a self deprecating quickness that moves things along to their jokes. Here, it’s treated as a main joke. In fact it’s one of the jokes they use during the trailer. You see other comics make jokes like to get people used to them, not as the best joke of the set.

McHale does a flair for swift word choices and has consistent delivery. He comes off as sarcastic but considerably less mean than Tosh. He is enthusiastic and able to switch from emotional beats with quickness. He is fine, even good at performing his comedy, but his idea on what is funny to listen to for an hour needs refinement. If he gave us more stories about his family this special would work better for me.

All in all it just doesn’t feel like there is much material in this special. A lot of stories about things that did happen, or that he said happened, which he uses to voice his judgemental views on geographies outside of LA. For me, it’s exhausting to hear him mostly talk down about places for a full hour, without embracing anything other than his children.

Nore Davis balances chill and fretfull on “Too Woke”

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Nore Davis is a New York-based comic whose humanity shines in his new album. The premise of the album is that it is introduced by a radio DJ, which is a perfect tone setting moment for this album. It’s unique, wacky, and perfect for the zeitgeist, a small thing that immediately sets the album apart from others.

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