Com­edy MVPs

Exclaim! - - BEST OF 2018 - BY VISH KHANNA


Months since it aired its fi­nal episode, Sacha Baron Co­hen’s Who Is Amer­ica? re­mains one of the most in­com­pre­hen­si­bly dar­ing comedic feats in TV his­tory. Play­ing an ar­ray of odd char­ac­ters de­signed to lam­poon Amer­i­can per­cep­tions of for­eign­ers and some of its own, Co­hen, tak­ing his dan­ger­ously awk­ward ideas to fright­en­ing heights, tries to spend time with mon­sters (i.e., racists, ho­mo­phobes, pe­dophiles, Dick Cheney, the world’s most fa­mous for­mer Buf­falo Bill), os­ten­si­bly to un­der­stand them, but re­ally to ex­pose them for what they re­ally are.


Since Nanette launched on Net­flix, it’s be­come a much-dis­cussed cul­tural event, bring­ing the con­cept of “an­ti­com­edy” to the fore. Aus­tralian Gadsby per­forms at the Syd­ney Opera House, telling funny jokes about the per­cep­tions she’s faced as a les­bian in a part of the world that only in the last 20 years or so stopped view­ing her as ille- gal. Gadsby also points out our strange col­lec­tive his­tory of apol­o­giz­ing for and ex­cus­ing men and their be­hav­iour, draw­ing a fas­ci­nat­ing par­al­lel be­tween such im­pulses and ex­pec­ta­tions around ten­sion and re­lease in com­edy. But, in a high-wire act of shock, Gadbsy makes the show more and more dev­as­tat­ingly per­sonal, as­crib­ing blame for so­ci­ety’s deep-seated in­ter­per­sonal ills on the very act of jok­ing it­self.


The team be­hind Baroness Von Sketch

Show have been up to some sub­ver­sive shit lately. The four stars have al­ways had per­for­mance chops, and the comedic con­cepts by the troupe and their skilled writ­ers have al­ways been smart. But there’s been a nec­es­sar­ily sharper, harsher tone to some of their lat­est work, as if their ini­tial suc­cess, and the cur­rent cli­mate of out­spo­ken­ness cou­pled with the re­al­iza­tion that life on Earth feels more fi­nite than ever, has given them free rein to re­ally see how dark they can go.


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