Do yourself a favor and watch Judah Friedlander's America is the Greatest Country in the United States Netflix special, no matter what part of the world you came from. The format is less pretentious than what you usually see out there in the land of stand-up specials, and the delivery is priceless, with a touch of Steven Wright. According to the comedian's website, "it's a comedy about racism, sexism, imperialism, climate change, health care, LGBTQ rights, fascism, drones, and mass incarceration."

In the comedian's own words (via SplitSider): It's basically is a feature-length stand-up performance film. I view stand-up as a very simple art form. It's a person onstage talking into a microphone. That's it. It's straightforward. I thought my unique, or stand-up performance film, whatever you want to call it, should be done in an effortless way as well. Usually, I wouldn't say I like the way big comedy productions are done on TV. You've got the crane shots and smoke machines. To me, that's not what comedy is about. Comedy is about pulling up in a dark room and doing your thing. So I wanted to try to capture that experience and make it feel like you just strolled into some little room, and you're just sitting there taking it in. [...] Most of this was filmed in one of the Comedy Cellar's three rooms. 99% of the special was filmed there. At the Comedy Cellar, because they're so popular now, people have to make their reservations days in advance, so they might not know who will be on the show, or they might not know I'm on the show until after they bought their tickets. In general, New York City gets a lot of international people in the audience. That includes the Cellar as well. I like that, especially since I satirize America, as well as other countries.

"The special breaks all the rules of making an hour special- in fact, Friedlander doesn't really even call it a special. In conversation, he's more likely to refer to it as a documentary or a movie. Judah gets rid of any of the conventions that aren't directly related to the performance of comedy. There are no swooping crane shots, there are no cuts to the audience, no elaborate introduction vignettes, no fancy credits, and there isn't even any color. The 84-minute special- which could not be contained by the standard convention of an hour- is in Black and White. And Friedlander shot it all on small prosumer cameras. In someone else's hands, the rulebreaking might come across as gimmicky, but under Judah's direction, once you remove all of the bells and whistles, what's left is pure comedy. And that comedy is quite brilliant, and perfectly timed to talk about what's happening in the United States (and around the world) right now. The 84-minute docu-special weaves in and out of crowd work but is by no means unstructured. Roughly divided into sections, Judah embarks on the journey first using crowd work with audience members from other countries to illustrate thoughts about American exceptionalism, before moving on to an announcement that Friedlander is running for President and a Q&A session about his candidacy and plans once elected." (Eponymous Review)

"As Friedlander has grown older, his voice has achieved a deeper gravelly tone, which reminds you of Steven Wright (when he slows it down in a one-liner). Instead of Wright's surreal absurdity, though, Friedlander traffics in social commentary that often flips the script. Like this line: "I wrote a self-help book for trees. It's called How Not to Become A Book." His World Champion persona, on the other hand, makes him the ultimate one-upper, so instead of flying into New York City from another country, he parkoured his way there. His karate moves happen so quickly you cannot see them. As the World Champion (a character Friedlander began inhabiting years before Kristen Wiig's Penelope sketches on Saturday Night Live), his personality succeeds in crowd work. Instead of investigating an audience member's hometown or occupation, Friedlander competes and defeats them with his own take. This lends itself particularly well to the premise of his first special, shot, and directed by the comedian in black-and-white, in a series of short segments. Similarly, Friedlander demonstrates how even the worst statistics about life in America can be twisted to make the case that the United States remains the best. High incarceration rates simply prove how much our government wants us to have free food and lodging. Olive Garden proves how successful it is an Italian restaurant, and the lack of them in Italy is evidence of how small and unsuccessful their restaurants must be." (Decider)

Check out the trailer below.

   2020-06-19 08:31:39

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