Miller morbidly empty in stand-up special
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.