Miller mor­bidly empty in stand-up spe­cial

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The Show: TJ Miller: Metic­u­lously Ridicu­lous (hBo) The Mo­MenT: The veer-off “We don’t talk about death in our so­ci­ety be­cause it’s mor­bid,” T.J. Miller an­nounces from the stage in this stand-up spe­cial. “That’s the only ad­jec­tive we have for talk­ing about death: mor­bid. That’s never pos­i­tive. You never com­pli­ment some­body with the word ‘mor­bid.’ You’d never say, ‘Hey, Steve, you were su­per-mor­bid all week, al­ways talk­ing about the ephemeral na­ture of our ex­is­tence. Keep it mor­bid!’”

He imag­ines talk­ing about death with a stranger in an el­e­va­tor: “Sum­mer va­ca­tion’s com­ing up. Guess what else is com­ing up — death!”

Then things take a turn: “We also don’t talk about suicide. Peo­ple who are sui­ci­dal are ashamed, they feel vul­ner­a­ble. I had a great friend who died a year ago to­day. I like to talk about him on stage. His name was Gleep Glarp.”

This veer into non­sense, ac­com­pa­nied by much talk of sneeze-barfs, is where Miller loses me. I love his dimwit­ted smug­ness on Sil­i­con Val­ley (“Jian Yang!!!”). He’s clearly hav­ing a mo­ment, with The Gor­burger Show on Com­edy and a stack of films about to drop.

He seems de­ter­mined to move stand-up into some­thing meta — in­stead of drink­ing from a wa­ter bot­tle, as many co­me­di­ans do, he soaks him­self. Props ap­pear on stage, which are never used. And this Gleep Glarp busi­ness, I think, is de­signed to un­der­mine our ex­pec­ta­tion that his death jokes are lead­ing to some poignant truth in­side the funny. He even weeps crocodile tears.

I’m fine with Funny Hmm, and with push­ing the en­ve­lope. But for me, this en­ve­lope is empty. Jo­hanna Sch­neller is a me­dia con­nois­seur who ze­roes in on pop-cul­ture mo­ments. She ap­pears Mon­day through Thurs­day.


In Metic­u­lously Ridicu­lous, T.J. Miller touches on death and suicide, but his rou­tine veers into non­sense.

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