Australia & New Zealand
In a bid to see if laughter really is the best medicine, Netflix dropped an audacious comedy event on New Year’s Day called Comedians Of The World. The premise is simple, take three or four contrasting comedic styles from different countries around the world and let them perform at a big, global event. While being filmed for an international audience. On the world’s biggest streaming platform. No pressure. The result is a delightful buffet of comedy, sprinkled with political and societal issues affecting different countries and littered with a whole host of laughs and comedic talent.
Reviewing stand up is never an easy thing. Comedy as a whole is very subjective and while I personally don’t take to the crude, shouting ramble style in routines, I can appreciate that others do gravitate toward this style. This is partly why Netflix’s comedy event works as well as it does. Out of the 26 hours worth of stand up on offer, you’re almost certainly going to find a comedian or group of stand-ups you like in this diverse talent pool of humour. With all manner of topics covered from food and drink through to home comforts and taboos in the bedroom, there isn’t anything else quite like Comedians Of The World out there.
Netflix has been infamously blasted by its fans for its unfriendly user interface but this comedy event is perfectly presented. Upon clicking (or tapping) on the special, you’re presented with the usual drop down menu but instead of seasons, the list of countries written above show up. Opening those up then presents a set of episodes for that country with the comedian’s name and basic description of their routine below. This works really well too and being from the UK, my Netflix begun with the UK drop-down menu so it’ll be interesting to see if this is different for other regions.
Personally, my favourite routines included Nish Kumar, Nazeem Hussain and Amit Tandon to name a few. On the other end of the spectrum, Nicole Byer and Joel Dommett really didn’t do it for me. Herein lies the beauty with Comedians Of The World. Unlike shows like Live At The Apollo or The Comedy Club, if you don’t like a comedian you don’t have to sit through their routine, you can move on to the next and try another comedian. This actually made the whole experience so much more enjoyable than I thought it would be and after watching 12 different acts in full and at least trying to get through a lot of the other comedians, I can confidently say this is a real mixed bag of comedy and there’s something for everyone here.
Having never watched stand up comedy with subtitles before, I did find some of the foreign comedians to be really funny but the punchlines were ruined by the subtitles. Sometimes the genius with stand-up acts comes from the timing but with the words already laid out on screen, the punchline had already been read before being shown on screen. It’s a difficult one to solve to be fair and while I personally didn’t mind it too much, it did weaken some of the comedic power for these acts.
While it’s great to see the comedians getting into the spirit of their act, the sheer number of them laughing at their own jokes while the audience watches on was a little distracting. At times this comes across as a nervous tick and takes away some of the confidence needed to present a relaxing stand up routine. While comedians like Chris D’elia actually manage to disguise this pretty well, for others, it does take off the shine to some of the decent acts on offer here.
Still, with a simple premise, minimalist production design and a whole delectable range of comedy on offer, Comedians Of The World is an impressive and diverse comedy event. While it perhaps could have been made more epic by showcasing famous comedians from different countries instead, props to Netflix for giving a platform to some of the up and coming comedians on the scene. They’re given a real opportunity here to step up to the plate and it’ll be amazing to see some careers take off as a result of this. The event isn’t perfect and some of the stand up acts aren’t great but with the sheer breadth of comedic talent on offer here you’ll likely find something to laugh at in this 26 hour comedy event.