Conventional Comedy; Unconventional Format
23 years since his last stand-up routine, sitcom star Ray Romano returns to his roots for a 58 minute comedy special on Netflix. With a unique and unconventional format, Romano’s special takes a while to get going but once it does, there’s some good laughs to be had here.
The comedy begins with Ray Romano walking down the street, past fellow New Yorkers as he discusses his feelings toward diving back into the stand-up scene. For the first 5 minutes or so, we simply watch Ray walking to the club and eventually to the stage. It’s a strange way to open the show and one that’s clearly meant to showcase the title of “Right Here, Around The Corner” meaning Ray is literally around the corner.
The opening 5 or 10 minutes are a little rough around the edges as you may expect and isn’t helped by some questionable sound mixing that drown out Ray’s jokes with a smattering of applause and laughs. Midway through his first set things do get better and from here on out the laughs flow easily. After bowing out of The Comedy Cellar, we follow Ray once more as he walks around the corner to another stand up routine.
The 10 minutes shown following him saying hi to onlookers does kill the momentum somewhat but the second set is worth the wait, delivering a solid 20 minutes of hilarious jokes. The special ends once more with another 2 minute segment of Ray walking before ending this unusually designed special.
While the comedy itself is well timed and delivered with enthusiasm, the format really undermines the comedic quality. It’s a shame too as the blend of crude under toned humour and a smattering of sexually charged jokes work really well here and the audience are clearly on board too. Some of this is typified by Ray engaging with the crowd and it’s these little moments that help sell the intimacy at work here. Throughout the show Ray discusses growing old, having sex, life with kids and the weird and wonderful people you meet in New York.
Paying homage to where it all began, Ray’s stand up is specifically designed to give back to the community that elevated his career and it’s a theme that runs throughout this comedy. The basic set design, simplistic camera work and minimalist stage presence all echo this sentiment too. It’s simply a stand up comedy without the bells and whistles that go with this sort of show and it’s something that keeps things focused solely on the comedy rather than the stardom.
It’s not perfect and watching Romano walking around New York is a little hit and miss at times but the comedic content is well written and delivered enthusiastically enough. It’s a simple little stand up routine and an hour of comedy that’s well worth watching if you’re a fan of Ray Romano. If you’re not, the format may sway you a little but the jokes are funny enough to see you through to the end of this one.