Not all heroes wear capes, some just have a stool and a microphone
Trevor Noah: “African American”
Rating: Four emoji laughing faces
Trevor Noah’s stand up comedy special “African American” is truly a work of cultural and comedic art. He describes growing up in apartheid South Africa as a child of mixed race who desired to move to America so he could be just “black.” The culture shock, and being confused as a Puerto Rican, open the door for Noah to depict his experiences with animated voices. Georgian hicks, American blacks, suburban whites and Iranians are just a few of the perfected voices that Noah uses to bring his wit to life before returning to his South African accent. The playful jokes poking at American culture are insightful truths, such as sport obsession and ethnic prefixes on everyone except white Americans.
Favorite Quote: “My father was white. Well he still is a white man, sorry I said was, like through hard work and determination he became black… That guys looking at me like ‘is that possible?’ No sir, you’re fine…Your position of privilege is just the way it was. Although it would be something though if you could work so hard that you became black. That would change the work place forever. You see guys walking into the office talking to the boss ‘Jim, I don’t know. I think I’m gonna take a few days off. I don’t know, I feel it coming on…yeah I’ve been putting in some overtime… Look I mean the wife’s loving it but I can’t take a chance. I just filled out a new loan application and my credit is looking real good…yeah I’m gonna take a few days off.’”
Louis C.K.: “Live at the Beacon Theater”
Rating: Five emoji laughing faces
Louis C.K. is often called “a comedian’s comedian,” which has to be among the highest honors in the world of humor. After watching his standup, it is clear that he is one of the absolute best comedians of our time. He’s probably the best, but definitely not the favorite. This is because Louis slaps you in the face with reality, via self-deprecation and hyperbole, so hard that audience members can’t help but hate themselves while watching him. Louis is the ultimate comedic genius because he uses wit, realism and obscenity that can make everyone laugh at the reality of ironic Christian anti-environmentalists, white imperialism and the boredom of parenthood.
Favorite Quote: “If you believe that God gave you the Earth and God created the Earth for you, why would you not be – have to look after it? Why the f*** – why would you not think that when he came back he would go ‘What the f*** did you do? I gave this to you mother****** are you crazy? The polar bears are brown! What did you – what did you do to the polar bears??? Did you shit all over every polar bear? What did you – Who did this? Who spilled this shit? Who spilled this? Come over – did you f****** spill this? What is that?
‘It’s oil…it’s just some oil…I didn’t mean to spill it…”
John Mulaney: “New in Town”
Rating: Four emoji laughing faces
John Mulaney’s transitions from childhood escapades to faking Catholicism all the way to meeting Bill Clinton are absolutely flawless as he threads the stories together to eventually unfold before the audience a masterpiece of comedy. Each tale is as unbelievable as the next, but if you do your research, all of Mulaney’s stories check out to be true. When watching Mulaney’s standup, the videography is key not just to laughing at the absurdity but to experiencing it. Paired with Mulaney’s vivid voices of parents, politicians and his childhood innocence, the videography makes you feel as if father Mulaney is looking down at you and personally declaring you, too, have “the moral backbone of a chocolate éclair.”
Favorite quote: “This first time I’ve ever seen a law change because the government is like, ‘*sigh* Fine.’ You know? I’ve never seen it before, like gay marriage and health care we have to battle it out in the Supreme Court and be like, ‘gay people are humans’ and they’re like ‘We’ll think about it.’ But with weed it was just something we wanted really badly and we kept asking them for 40 years… And then the suddenly the government became like cool parents and they’re just like, ‘Okay, here. Take a little, we’d rather you do it in the house than go somewhere else.’”
Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend
Rating: 5 emoji laughing faces
Mike Birbiglia presents his standup comedy as a movie. Yes, it is still an awkward man, wooden stool and microphone, but the entire one hour and 13 minute special is about a single car accident after a fight with a girlfriend. As the story unfolds and Birbiglia begins explaining the minute details of his awkward life that led to this moment, the movie as a whole is a proclamation of his ideology of marriage. He ultimately defines marriage as “an archaic institution invented in the Middle Ages based on exchanging property” but concludes the show by revealing that after the accident he decided to marry his girlfriend. To get from the vehement disparagement of marriage to being among the hitched, Birbilgia carries the audience with uncomfortable and sweaty facial expressions and awkwardly acting out dramatic events with his entire body. This standup absorbs you into a truly eloquent movie.
Favorite quote: “I read that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. That’s just first marriages. Second marriages, 60 percent to 62 percent end in divorce. Third marriages, 70 percent to 75 percent end in divorce. That’s a learning curve.”
Bill Burr: “I’m Sorry You Feel That Way”
Rating: Four laughing emojis
While Burr’s standup feels more masculine, it actually is quite the comedic experience because he has the ability to make anyone laugh at sports jokes or the hyperbolic dilemmas of being a man. One of the key distinctions of Burr’s standup is his sensitivity…or lack there-of. He calls men out on their shit and simultaneously calls women out on their shit; egalitarianism at its finest. However, the jokes that are really striking are in the realm of political issues. Burr is performing in Georgia, during his special and instead of shying away from topics that usually are avoided with conservative southerners, he addresses them head-on. His humor turns into a PSA of sorts, as he eloquently makes fun of anyone who thinks he or she needs a big gun. Burr is successfully performing controversial political activism by means of standup comedy.
Favorite Quote: “I’m thinking about adopting. Absolutely, recycle! You know. Think globally, act locally. It doesn’t have to be brand new… It’s a great thing to do and I already know what I wanna get. I do. I wanna get like an ’07 – ’08. I’d love to rescue some kid that works in a sweatshop. Find the kid who made this shirt! Wouldn’t that be amazing… How easy would that kid be to raise? All I gotta do is let him sit down…so that’s my first draft pick. Coming out of the gate with that. In the second round I’d probably get like a ’05 boy soldier, ya know? Yeah, sure up the offensive line. Gotta protect the blindside… That’s how f***** up the world is.”