Ralph Barbosa: Cowabunga Review – This guy, he’s alright

By Romey Norton
Published: October 31, 2023 (Last updated: November 16, 2023)
Ralph Barbosa: Cowabunga Review
Ralph Barbosa: Cowabunga | Image via Netflix


A comedy special with such a laid-back style you might find yourself catching some Z’s instead of laughs.

With a bright, glamorous Las Vegas glitzy opening, the star Ralph Barbosa enters a snazzy stage for his Netflix special, Cowabunga. The cheering crowd is all illuminated under pink lights. This looks like it could be ladies’ night at Magic Mike, but too bad it’s not half as fun. 

This one-hour-long special provides Ralph’s audience an insight into his life as he shares anecdotes of growing up with his grandparents, running a hair-cutting company out of his bedroom as a 13-year-old, and his street racing dreams.

Ralph Barbosa: Cowabunga Review

If you’ve not heard of Ralph Barbosa before, he’s a 26-year-old comedian from Dallas, USA and this is his first comedy special. It’s been a whirlwind year for the young gamer, who made his debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in January this year. This special is taped whilst he’s on his North American tour, in his hometown in Dallas. 

He comes out saying he’s trying to be low energy, and he kept that up for the whole hour. He’s a very laid-back guy, and sometimes this plays well into his comedic style and storytelling. At other times, though, his voice could have put me to sleep. He wears all black, except his shoes, looking very simple and trim.

It might be the fact I’m British, but some jokes went completely over my head, so I’m glad the audience were laughing — they were my prompts. I think he went on about water for a good three whole minutes and I was like, wait, why is drinking water so funny? Comedy is definitely subjective. 

There are shots of the audience laughing which I always love. It’s great to see the stage that they’re performing on and the area they’re in as I think it says a lot about their character and style. Here he really gives a young, hip vibe.

There are multiple angle shots throughout which let us see the snazzy checked floor, the pink audience in the balconies, and the giant red curtain behind Ralph. It’s needed to help boost the energy of this show. 

Barbosa tells us stories about his childhood, dating, and what he wants in life. They’re all relatable topics, for many types of audiences, especially young men. There are a lot of role-reversal jokes, which are quite funny, but I feel like I needed more physicality and accents to pull this off and have maximum impact. He’s not vulgar in his comedy — there’s very little swearing, nothing too political and controversial, it seemed a bit safe at times and I was waiting for the hard-hitting, show-stopping joke, but never got it. 

Is this comedy special worth watching?

Ralph Barbosa: Cowabunga is only worth watching if you are a die-hard fan of comedy who likes to give every new artist a fair shot. On that level, it’s worth giving this special a shot just to see how Ralph’s particular brand of comedy resonates with you.

For one hour, it’s easy to watch and there are enough cuts to keep you entertained, but his comedy did not make me laugh out loud. There are some funny sections, but it felt more like a guy trying to chat me up with his nonchalance and laid-back stories, than someone trying to make me laugh. 

What did you think of Ralph Barbosa: Cowabunga? Comment below.


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