Published Jun 24, 2016Exclaim! is reviewing every standup comedy special currently available on Netflix Canada, including this one. You can find a complete list of reviews so far here.
Chelsea Handler's Uganda Be Kidding Me: Live sets up expectations it doesn't satisfyingly deliver on. The first is that Handler will be hilarious as a standup comedian because she is a very funny comedic actor and talk show host. While she checks all of the boxes, her articulate delivery and sardonic persona seem better suited for other media. When on the stage for over an hour, her tone gives off a disinterest that makes it difficult to stay engaged.
The second expectation is that, given the title and cover of the special, this might have been recorded in Uganda. That assumption is quickly dispelled, as you find out that she is recording in Chicago.
The marketing of the 2014 special combines with the set design that features a slide-show setup, which produces a third expectation: that the majority of the performance would focus on her trip, cultural differences and race-based humour. Instead, it concentrates on her interactions with her friends and colleagues and other events from her everyday life — most of which have little to do with her actual trip to Uganda.
When Handler does talk about travel, it relies a great deal on toilet humour that, despite her combination of absurdity and act-out, is more gross than funny. In general, her material about sexuality, online dating, pubic hair and sex is disappointingly commonplace.
Of course, she delivers a handful of irreverent moments: "Are there any black people here? Smile, so I can see you"; her discussion of lesbians; and her comment about a law firm where all of the partners are Jewish. While these moments have potential, they're a little too unoriginal to be funny only based on her flippant delivery alone.
When it comes to Uganda Be Kidding Me: Live, you will spend the majority of the special waiting for Handler to talk about her experiences in Africa in more detail — when she finally does it's in the form of food poisoning after she had already left Uganda. It turns out the only real reason for the trip to Uganda was the pun in the title. Handler has also released a book by the same name, so maybe this special is a lot stronger if you've read the book. Despite everything, Handler's confidence and biting attitude are very appealing so you can't help but hope for the best from her new Netflix talk show.