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Comfort Zone

Multi-tasking TV and Internet host Chris Hardwick's stand-up evolves and sharpens in new special

 

By Michael Shashoua

 

Comedian Chris Hardwick, who may be better known as a broadcaster and podcaster, and leader of a budding media empire, shows that stand-up comedy is still the foundation of his work, in “Funcomfortable,” a new special released as an album on May 3 by Comedy Central.

 

Hardwick’s material is crafted with a dense and specific collection of pop cultural references that for the most part should not end up sounding dated. He has kept to a similar persona and style of delivery as he had in his last major special, “Mandroid,” in 2012 – character voices that resemble those of Matt Stone and Trey Parker on “South Park” are again apparent.

 

The subject matter of Hardwick’s material, underlying the style used to present it, is more substantial and interesting than before. The best example of this is the piece “Dead Dad,” where he links an unflinching, unsentimental but still admiring portrayal of his late father with well-executed dark humor.

 

Noting that the average funeral in the U.S. costs about $20,000, Hardwick imagines how one could make such a send-off a lot more fun. “I could have dressed my dad as Batman, dropped him out of a plane over the Grand Canyon. That would cost $15,000,” he says. “For the other $5,000, I could hire Sugar Ray to play ‘Fly’ as it happened.”

 

That one last bit might be the dated, generationally specific reference, but this bit is emblematic of the spirit of Hardwick’s entire special. In the same way he refers to the need to put a little “fun” into a “funeral” in this bit, so does he successfully pull of the aim implied in the title of this special. That’s portraying uncomfortable experiences and making them funny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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