American comedian Chris D’Elia’s comedy special, No Pain, released last night on Netflix. It’s a 55 minute special that covers all sorts of strange, hilarious things that are rarely heard about. It’s refreshing, actually funny, and super energetic. But where D’Elia loses two scores is for his disappointing Boomer takes on consent, “when to take your dick out”, and his absurd sudden realization that white men have it easy. Was he seriously that caught up in his own privilege that he didn’t realize this, like, twenty years ago?
Here’s the thing, okay. I try to judge the overall performance, and be as unbiased as possible. D’Elia’s energy was so high throughout the show, that I felt welcomed, invited, and part of the live experience–even though I was watching it on my laptop, tucked away in another continent. His stage presence is remarkable, and he is a performer in all senses of the word. Right from the beginning, his jokes seemed to flow from one to the next. He went so casually from introducing himself to growling at a baby, to pedophile jokes, to dolphins fucking humans, to racism and Tupac, and it all felt like one long song that had a series of melodies in the right place.
What didn’t work for me was also what disappointed me about Chris D’Elia. I did not expect the same, seemingly intelligent writer, actor and comedian, to be all “it’s so hard to be a man in today’s world” (paraphrased), and “you don’t even know when to take your dick out anymore”. See, Chris, I respect that you don’t make any false claims about being woke (God, I hate that word), and you unashamedly say that you’re dumb and don’t like reading articles. Neither do 90% of us, but you don’t hide behind any facade.
But did I expect more from you than laughing at the concept of asking for consent? Yes. Because, with regards to the other statement about how easy it is to be a white man, it feels like you’re not really fully aware of your privilege. I agreed with D’Elia that laughing at dolphin rape is totally acceptable because (a) it’s never happened and never can, and (b) that can fully, freely revel in the realm of comedy. On the other hand, it’s 2020 and we’re finally hearing women’s voices, people of colours’ voices, and one doesn’t need to be constantly politically correct to just be, like, conscientious. In other words, stating the obvious is reductive, and feeling bad for men in today’s world reflects those ‘meninist’ beliefs that #NotAllMen are bad, okay. It must be super hard for you to not know when it’s okay to take your dick out, obviously much harder than it is for the women who are on the receiving end of unsolicited dick pics and randos jerking off at them on the streets.
What I do respect about D’Elia is his beliefs on comedians being answerable to what they say. He claims proudly, “I will never apologise for what I say on stage.” I understand that. I respect that. He shouldn’t have to, either. I do think that there were many problematic things with what he said, but that is the point of comedy, right? To be subjective, and to have some people uncomfortable. Does my discomfort and anger with some of his jokes mean that he is a bad comedian, or should not say what he says?
All in all, what I really liked about his performance was the fact that he was having a good time. It was nice to see D’Elia laughing at his own jokes unabashedly and loudly. It felt natural, and was even a contagious laughter that cracked me up too. Oh, and all that energy? Doesn’t come from drugs, as he explicitly mentions right off the bat. And I know that the entire audience thought he was coked up too, it couldn’t have just been me.
I give his special 3/5 stars. No Pain, but not much gain, either. Perhaps he actually should read an article or two, and understand how white male privilege, and matters of consent, are complex ideals that should be dealt with more care.
If you like what you see, hit us up on firstname.lastname@example.org