Whitney Cummings: Jokes is the kind of a comedy special that chooses to only play safe-Entertainment News , Firstpost

2022-07-30 01:06:18 By : Ms. Tina Zhang

Whitney Cummings is a comedian whose persona informs her comedy and not the other way round. So it feels like a bit of a loss to encounter a special where she insists on playing safe instead of challenging uncomfortable truths.

Whitney Cummings: Jokes, the multi-hyphenate American comedian’s fifth Netflix special, makes its intentions clear in its title. In fact, in the run-up to the special, Cummings described the special as “emotionally cozy,” adding that there was going to be “no politics, no lecturing, no self-indulgence.” Which is to suggest that this is the kind of special that isn’t exactly interested in making a statement, just in sustaining its comedy. As Whitney Cummings: Jokes proves, that direction in itself can be a double-edged sword. The good part is that Cummings delivers on the promise, racking up laughs by the minute. But what’s disappointing is that she ends up diluting her distinct voice to service a one-hour set that doesn’t employ comedy to challenge uncomfortable truths. What you make of the one-hour set depends largely on how much you’re satisfied with the idea of a cozy special from one of the brightest comedians around.

Whitney Cummings: Jokes comes three years after the comedian’s last special and even though it doesn’t really feel like Cummings has been away for so long, Cummings starts off by reminding the audience exactly how much has changed in the last three years. Last time around, the comedian was engaged, this time around she’s broken up. It’s a neat segway for the 39-year-old to launch into a bit about the shame that engulfs women who undo the time-bound potential of a happily-ever-after by breaking up in their late thirties. As we find out in the next moment, this is still a set-up for her to arrive at a bit about being into older men. “The good thing about dating older guys is that you get to hear R. Kelly by accident,” Cummings says, delivering a punchline so loaded that it’s impossible to not admire its efficiency. It gets even better as Cummings does a foolproof impression of her twerking to a R. Kelly song played by her “older boyfriend” while trying to educate him about R. Kelly’s conviction as a sexual predator. The foundation of the bit — pointing at the faults in cancel culture — is no doubt familiar but the theatrics of it are utterly new and rewarding.

Throughout the one-hour long special, Cummings’ spunk is undeniable as she races across the stage, doing one suggestive impression after the next, owning every inch of the space with her manic energy. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that Cummings is the kind of comedian whose persona informs her comedy and not the other way round. So it feels like a bit of a loss to encounter a special where she insists on playing safe. For most of the special, she sticks to her trademark raunchy style of comic delivery even when it amounts to nothing. There’s talk about dating younger men and the problems that arise with having one.

For Cummings, that revolves around the evolution of consent in a post-MeToo era. She takes this line of thought into several directions — sex, sexual positions, an imaginary proposal, orgasms — and pretty much all of them are immediately forgettable. The self-deprecating tone of these jokes feel like an easy cop-out — these are jokes that you’d imagine someone like Cummings being able to riff if put on the spot. But for a special, these bits feel lacking, not only due to their unbearable sameness but also because Cummings doesn’t really contend with any of the subjects she raises in a manner that’s either provocative or risky.

I thought that might change when she brings up the topic of her nudes being publicly leaked. A large part of this particular bit hinged on the comedian’s annoyance at ending up with a leaked nude that captures her in an unflattering angle. It’s a clever nod at a woman’s never-ending quest to meet unrealistic body image standards even when caught at the center of a tragedy. To her credit, Cummings builds it up well before completely discarding it altogether. At more than one point during this bit, I found myself waiting for the mic-drop moment — a comment, an observation, or even a clever dig that joined the dots — but that never arrived. It reduced a tight bit of storytelling into a series of self-deprecating jokes about celebrity body image that don’t do much except retell a life event tempered with the wisdom of hindsight.

The last portion of Whitney Cummings: Jokes boast largely disjointed thoughts that has Cummings make a point about how easy kids have it these days. The comparison is ofcourse the colorful events of her own childhood — a time when male doctors took advantage of kids, mothers spread misinformation by lying to their kids, and the sanctity of personal data didn’t exist. There’s one part of the comedian’s “kids then vs kids now” monologue that stood out to me. It involved the comedian recounting a story about her god-daughter’s ballet class, laced with such sincerity that you could almost see a trace of the comedian’s own personality instead of the one that she put on for the stage. To me, this bit felt the closest that the comedian came to being vulnerable on stage. It’s why the resulting punchline about an epidemic of “hot girls who think they are smart” landed so perfectly. Unlike the rest of the set, it didn’t feel like I was listening to a mechanical joke generator.

Whitney Cummings: Jokes is streaming on Netflix.

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