Sebastian Maniscalco: Aren’t you Embarrassed?
Sebastian Maniscalco is a half-Italian, half-Sicilian American-born Chicago native, and, man, does all that show in this special. The honesty in his comedy and the pride he has for his upbringing comes through this quality set of jokes and stories. He looks like he belongs on set of MTV’s Jersey Shore with skin-tight clothes, spiked hair, and that amazing natural Italian tan, but the way he moves would suggest otherwise. He acts out his comedy with the best of them. Nobody uses the stage and space around them better than he does. From facial expressions to full-body gestures, the guy can move! You also get a real “fly on the wall” feeling during this special. It felt authentic and intimate. Coming from an Italian immigrant family who also settled in Chicago, he was ultra-relatable at times. His comedy also brings in a ton of observational humor (if you’re on Instagram or Twitter he’s worth a follow for that single reason alone), and anyone who’s ever stepped into a Catholic church, or a Catholic family’s home, will get it. Overall, this is a great watch for anyone. I’d even challenge you to watch it with the sound off for a bit! Weird Movie Rating: A good cross between Saturday Night Fever and Saturday Night Live! (Reviewer: Nick Pignotti)
Sebastian Maniscalco: Stay Hungry
Before you read any further, if you haven’t watched Sebastian’s Aren’t You Embarrassed? (reviewed above), go watch that first. For those who have watched…continue or proceed at your own risk. Stay Hungry is not Sebastian’s best stuff, but if you’re a fan of his already, you pretty much know what you’re getting yourself into, and you’ll enjoy it. He brings his typical facial and body expressions to his routine, although they did seem a bit over-the-top this go-round. This special did have some personally enjoyable moments for me as someone who also just welcomed a new baby into the world, as part of the the first few years of the balancing act called marriage. He does stray from his harsh stance on things in this special, showing a small crack in that strong Chicago/Italian/Catholic upbringing. He pokes fun at how his harsher upbringing compares to that of his wife’s ultra-positive and encouraging Jewish one. Overall, good for some laughs, better for those who already like him, but not his best work. He also has a couple of cheap jokes, that could be misconstrued, I expect more from him, but this special was never going to be as good as Aren’t You Embarrassed?. Weird Movie Rating: This is a good mashup of Father of the Bride and Married with Children. (Reviewer: Nick Pignotti)
Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable
Vulture Review One of the best at observational humor, Ellen DeGeneres’ new standup special Relatable shows she still has her finger on that late-night standup pulse, even with her daytime success. Her life has changed since her truly relatable (non-star, millionaire) days, but she delivers the same types of jokes that made her a hit early on in her career, while giving them the added new flavor of her new life as one of the most successful women in show biz! As unrelatable as her new life may seem, her jokes and quips still feel relatable, just in a different way. She ends the special by answering questions from the audience. It seemed to pull away from the standup, and geared more toward Ellen fandom. So if you’re an Ellen fan, you might like that bit too, everyone else can stop a little early. Overall, very funny. I highly recommend. Weird Movie Rating: Huge cross between Trading Places and Godfather Part 2. (Reviewer: Nick Pignotti) Dead to Me NPR Review We watched this in two nights—and were sorely tempted to stay up late and get it all done in one. Christina Applegate’s Jen has lost her husband to a hit and run accident and meets her new best friend, Linda Cardellini’s Judy at a grief group. It’s an odd couple comedy, with the full suite of highly unsympathetic problems that SoCal upper middle class white characters are prone to in fiction, but this show manages to hang on to all the humor while also diving into some very real issues. While Jen’s handling of her grief is truly funny (heavy-metal screaming in her car), the broken sobbing is completely serious. The great thing about comedy like this is that it can tell you some really scary big truths about life, while also making you laugh out loud. It takes a lot of talent to deliver on this balance and the writers and stars completely pull it off. If you loved Santa Clarita Diet, and are waiting for Season 2 of Big Little Lies, this is the show for you. (BTW if you never saw Cardellini in Bloodline and want a dark family story instead of comedy, Netflix has all three seasons for you.) (Reviewer: Susan Lyon)