NTWON: Make Happy

This month Mick watched comedian Bo Burnham's one hour Netflix-exclusive special Make Happy.

The thing about comedy specials is you usually know what you're getting: someone standing on stage with a microphone and telling jokes. If you're familiar with the comedian, you may be able to further predict the content of the jokes in advance. Bo Burnham shatters the standard one hour stand-up format in this special, making for a one of a kind experience. 

If there was one word to summarize what sets Bo apart from other stand ups, it's this: Showmanship. Dude knows how to put on a dynamic and engaging program with a hilarious blend of comedy, light shows, and music. It's particularly fitting because a major theme of Bo's work is the nature of performance and how in our modern society we are pressured into performing for each other at all times on the stage of social media. 

There are points in this special where Bo gets serious, where he takes advantage of his place on the stage to do a little bit of social and political grandstanding. Immediately afterwards, he calls attention to how this kills the momentum of the show and wonders aloud as to how he will bring the audience back, making everyone laugh in the process.

Bo has a whip-smart sense of humor and isn't afraid to take risks. He plays with different formats in his jokes, using a mix of extemporaneous crowd-work alongside meticulously pre-prepared songs. One bit in particular that stands out in memory is a part where Bo asks an audience member his name, only to burst into a song about how he had sex with that audience member's mother.

Overall, Make Happy is a fantastic special. It's funny and thoughtful and it's very clear that Bo put in a lot of work and time to make this happen. Give it a watch and you'll find that you've never seen anything quite like it before.

Check it out! 

Nothing to Watch on Netflix: Duck Soup

November's installment of Nothing to Watch on Netflix is the 1933 Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup.

I have to preface this by saying that I normally have no patience for black and white movies. Ever since I was a little boy, there was something about black and white movies that filled me with boredom. In spite of its lack of colorization, I say with no hyperbole that Duck Soup is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.

What makes it so funny? Well, let's start with the fact that all 68 minutes of this movie are jam packed with one liners, visual gags, social satire, crazy musical numbers, political satire, and even some solid physical comedy. The only thing this movie was missing was a fart joke, but then it would be so funny that nobody would even bother making any comedy movies at all.

Excuse the quality, the movie is only 81 years old.

It's truly amazing how a movie that's nearly 100 years old could still be so accessible to modern audiences. Let's just think about a few things that were still going on in 1933: Alcohol Prohibition, Jim Crow laws, The Great Depression...it was basically the stone age. However, the four Marx Brothers (Zeppo was getting billing at this point in time) have managed to put together a comedy that literally anyone can enjoy. 

The thing that's crazy is as you watch this movie, you can see echos of some of your favorite comedies. The Marx Brothers were the progenitors of some of the most important comedic tropes. I could especially see where Mel Brooks got a lot of influence after watching this movie, as there were many absurd jokes that seemed like something that should be in Space Balls or Men in Tights.

While it doesn't really matter what this movie is about because it's fucking hilarious and the Marx Brothers are basically all playing themselves, I feel I need to at least touch upon the movie's plot: 

The country of Freedonia is going broke. Mrs. Teasdale, a wealthy widow, agrees to bankroll the country on the condition that Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) is made president with Zeppo playing his assistant. The ambassador of Sylvania, a neighboring country, employs two spies (Chico and Harpo) to undermine Firefly's leadership. Hilarity fucking ensues.  

Definitely check this one out.