August 2017 Standup Roundup: Tiffany Haddish, Maz Jobrani, and More
August was a politically charged, incredibly diverse month for standup specials. By the numbers we had: a special about immigration from an immigrant, a special about border politics from a Latino, a special about finally making it from a formerly homeless woman of color, a special about “the change” from a middle-aged woman, and a special about being a nerdy white guy from a nerdy white guy. In case you missed it, here’s a rundown of what dropped in August.
Maz Jobrani – Immigrant (Netflix)
Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani has made a career of challenging stereotypes with releases like his book and special I’m Not a Terrorist, But I’ve Played One on TV and the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, which featured four Middle-Eastern comedians. In his latest special, Jobrani took to the Kennedy Center stage to deliver a politically heavy hour that covered immigration in America, the current President, Fox News, and protests. While all of that is topical and relevant, Jobrani’s strong suit is getting personal. He immigrated to the United States when his parents fled the Iranian Revolution, giving him a unique angle on both immigration and parenting. He also challenged stereotypes by admitting to being a non-religious Muslim with vices. As he told me in a chat before the special dropped, “You need those tidbits of humanization, and I think comedy provides that.”
George Lopez – The Wall (HBO)
Broadcast live from the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Lopez’s fourth HBO special was certainly his most political. Mere minutes into the special he goes off hard on Trump – calling him a puto – and chastising anyone who voted for him with, “Fuck you today, fuck you tomorrow, and fuck you three-and-a-half years from now.” In addition to plenty of catharsis, Lopez also shut down common misconceptions about immigrants; for instance: “They say that immigrants are lazy and that they’re stealing jobs. You can’t be both. Decide which one it is.” He then shamed entitled American workers who complain about ailments like repetitive strain injuries and chronic fatigue syndrome: “You’re always tired?” “Yes.” “And you only have one job?” Lopez’s timely bits were delivered in a blend of Spanish and English, furthering his point that in America today, there are no minorities and and we’re all equal.
Tiffany Haddish – She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood (Showtime)
The Carmichael Show co-star and Girls Trip breakout Tiffany Haddish couldn’t have timed the release of her first special any more perfectly. It’s been a big year for the performer and this special gave her a chance to catch the world up on where she started and just how far she’s come: from foster care, to swap meet model, to homelessness, to the now viral story of taking Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith on a Louisiana swamp tour. I had the pleasure of seeing Haddish working out a lot of this material while she was in New Orleans filming Girls Trip. After her sets she would often, with pure confidence, talk about what she had coming up and how we were about to see her doing big things. So many comics talk that talk, but Haddish proved that she can also walk that walk.
Lynne Koplitz – Hormonal Beast (Netflix)
After a successful string of dates opening for Louis C.K., Lynne Koplitz was approached by Netflix to film her first hour-long special. As she told me in a recent interview, “We get a call from Netflix saying, ‘Does Lynn want to do a comedy special and does she have a problem doing it around menopause?’ I was already doing jokes around menopause. I guess they were trying to reach another demographic. I said, ‘Listen, you can call it “Chick with a Dick” if you’re going to pay me. I don’t care. I just want to do an hour.’ I’d wanted to do one for ten years.” The result was Hormonal Beast, an expertly stage dressed hour of boozy truths and advice doled out by everyone’s Auntie Lynne. The special is raunchy, loose, and worthy of note taking for any woman of pre-menopausal age – or any man at all.
Ryan Hamilton – Happy Face (Netflix)
Named after his own deceptively jolly resting facial expression, Happy Face is Ryan Hamilton’s first full-length standup special. Hamilton channels Seinfeld’s observational and vocal style (he’s opened for Jerry) to convey how as a wholesome Idaho-born man, life in the Big Apple can be a real eye opener. He’s struggling with being single, is scared of what he sees on the subway, doesn’t like to party, and is just now starting to get a little bit political. Happy Face is a fish-out-of-water comedy special that the whole family can enjoy.