Noam MacDonald’s Nothing Special: A Talk Show Farewell | Comedy

OneAfter two years of closed venues and Zoom comedy gigs, I’m in no rush to see the stand-up again for absent audiences. But I’ll make an exception for Norm Macdonald, whose “Nothing Extraordinary,” which no one performs, hits Netflix today.like setting maria banford acting alone to parents, it’s one of those specials, where the silence that rings out is part of the spectacle.The key is MacDonald Died of cancer last year. He recorded this special at home in the summer of 2020 as a precaution before undergoing medical procedures. He “doesn’t want to leave anything on the table,” a preview description tells us, “in case things get worse.” The set now has the feel of a last will and testament, complete with a sextet of MacDonald’s standout stand-up. Comment.

With that in mind, here’s a symmetry The first viral comedy in the age of coronavirus It was MacDonald, improvising in Hollywood the day before America went into lockdown. “It’s funny how we all know now how we’re going to die,” he joked — which sounds especially bittersweet because he’s known it for years and (usually) keeps it hidden from everyone. Now, we’ve seen another Macdonald video book, ending the Covid era, and hopefully this is the last lockdown talk show we’ll have to watch. It’s worth it, for Norm fans interested in seeing their hero “reconcile his death before us,” as Dave Chappelle described it in a post-show chat; for Norm starters, They were curious to know what all the fuss was about when MacDonald died last September.

Formatting zero, a close-up of MacDonald from above the shoulder, is the comic value of his face. He’s one of those rare “funny bones” comics, Tribute to David Bader — but interestingly present on the face (laughter flickering on lips; expressive eyes). (“When he smiles,” Chappell says, “I can imagine him as a child.”) This face keeps us from taking him seriously, never forgetting the comedy going on, even the most sounding The true or truest part. Most disposable products are ticklish structures designed to make us (or MacDonald) laugh.

Funny bone...a face that forbids us to take him seriously.
Funny bone…a face that forbids us to take him seriously. Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Some might scoff at this — the “it’s just a joke” defense has been used to justify all kinds of unpleasant behavior over the years. You’ll find no shortage of unpleasant clips of McDonald’s on the internet, during his tenure as host of Saturday Night Live’s weekend updates on fake news bulletins, for his “savage attacks on OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson, Hillary Clinton and others” “Burned and celebrated. MacDonald certainly has the kind of evil tendencies that many comics share, making the rest of us all the more uncomfortable when etiquette might hold them back.As Chappelle, David Letterman and he discuss Netflix, this real-world gambling addict also has gambler urges on stage, betting everything on jokes he likes even when audience reactions threaten a losing streak. “It’s kind of heroism that he’s happy to drop a dud,” Letterman said.

There wasn’t much mute in his final set, although some parts may have been designed to scare the faint of heart.Shaming sluts, racism, transgender people – he says it all, and we know that when Big Gun Man comics do it, it not always smooth. But MacDonald has become more moderate here than he was in his SNL heyday. His “Hey Dad, I Think I’m a Girl” material mocks the pace of change (and vitriol) in thinking around gender and makes trans identity itself lonely. There’s one Down syndrome routine that’s a bit simplistic, and the other about trauma-recovering memories that’s flippant but irresistibly funny.

MacDonald’s approachable demeanor, as always, tempered all bluntness. It’s not just his smile that’s boyish, it’s his demeanor, pretentious but not pretentious, cheerful and innocent in the face of a confusing world.

Of course, there’s a lot of longing for the whole thing — because of the silence, because we know what’s going to happen next to McDonnell. And because the jokes are sometimes aspirational, too. Here, the most cryptic comic (not a confessional comedy trend for him) gets nostalgic at a time when people don’t want an opinion – which in turn prompts a thoughtful repetition of why we allow elections by “I have no idea”. Here are also several parts about death: how we can’t pretend we didn’t see it coming (“I made your hair white,” God told Noam: “What do you think that means? I tell you to put your Things get ordered!”); what it’s like to end our days on the wall at the mercy of a family’s whim or a clumsy janitor.

Then there’s the ending riff, which fades away from unfinished jokes, and the gag has turned into a pausing expression of his love for his mom. There was also a lot of emotion in the comedian’s discussion (a wake-up call really) as Conan O’Brien, Adam Sandler and others discussed their dear late friends. This suggests that the love that greeted MacDonald’s death may have been related to his personal qualities – kindness, empathy and loyalty – as well as his work.

But this last one in particular is worth a look. It not only shows how good MacDonald is, even without an audience — with whom (as Letterman puts it) his best work is done with whom. It also solves a problem: what would it be like to stand if breathed to death on a performer’s neck? You’ll get different answers from the confessional comedians who stand out today. In Nothing Special, you see what happens when a naturally private man uses comedy to deal with and challenge his impending death. Here’s a group that makes no mention of MacDonald’s illness, dances suggestively on cliffs, wiggles horrified noses (in Black Jazz’s coinage), then retreats laughing, if sometimes sad, always on play on the lips. The laughter lasted as long as the audience watched MacDonald’s comedy.