Tell-all tangents strung together with some lazy and predictable gags ensure this new special is a mixed bag.
Nikki Glaser: Bangin’ (Netflix) debuted globally on October 1st, 2019.
Nikki Glaser talks about sex — a lot. In fact, she talks about it almost exclusively. Her first Netflix Original special, the aptly-titled Nikki Glaser: Bangin’, discusses sex, sex, and more sex, in a way that feels kind of refreshing in its sheer openness. It also quickly becomes tedious, and it’s only once you realize that Glaser’s jokes about any other subject are noticeably worse that you start to appreciate why she leans so heavily on the no-pants-dance for her material.
Glaser’s frankness about sex is notable because it seems genuine. It isn’t part of a man-mocking bit — although there’s a bit of that, naturally — or some kind of empowerment crusade. Her peccadilloes seem more like a person genuinely unburdening themselves. Often in comedy, there’s an ulterior motive behind honesty. It’s to set up a punchline or to shield from criticism or, quite recently in the case of, say, Aziz Ansari, it’s about addressing something outside of comedy. Glaser’s honesty isn’t like that. One gets the sense this is simply how she is. She’s just happy to share it.
This is especially interesting in our current age of absurd hand-wringing and political correctness. Glaser gets away with lewder oversharing than almost any other comic you can name, but there really isn’t anything controversial about anything she says. The same moral puritans who savaged Dave Chappelle’s Sticks & Stones aren’t interested in Glaser, because the only target of her jokes is herself. But her more self-deprecating stuff doesn’t feel like a defensive shtick either, the way Amy Schumer’s does. She’s revealing in the style of somebody who seems a bit stunned and appreciative that she’s been given a platform to reveal anything at all. It makes her likable and relatable in a way a lot of comics aren’t.
The bits in Nikki Glaser: Bangin’ that are the most entertaining are those that seem the least like bits. The riffing is fun, especially when you genuinely can’t tell where it’ll stop. It’s everything in-between where she drops the ball a bit. Her recent Comedy Central Roast of Alec Baldwin will undoubtedly attract a fair share of viewers to this special, many of whom will be expecting to find material just as acerbic and will likely leave disappointed. A 9/11 gag, an Alabama reference, a Cosby nod — it all feels much too thin and flimsy for any of it to land with any impact. And Glaser has nothing to say about these things except how they pertain — in whatever obscure way — to her. Mentioning them at all just feels cheap.
That isn’t to say there’s nothing to like here. I imagine women will connect with it more, for obvious reasons, but I don’t imagine men would be put off by it unless they’re incredibly sensitive. I was neither here nor there. It had me laughing a few times, for sure, but an hour is quite a long time to spend talking about any one thing, even if it’s a thing everyone likes.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.