Just from its premise alone, Vimeo's 2016 release, Trying to Be Special, the second TV performance from musical comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates, stands as quirkily original.
Laid out in the show's cold open, the duo of Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome concoct the ludicrous idea of putting on a comedy special in order to raise money to "record their own comedy special." After a brief fake-out opening set by Anthony Jeselnik, in which he expectedly insults the duo on performing old material, Garkfunkel and Oates enter the stage next to an oversized thermometer designed to measure audience applause.
Over 60 minutes, Micucci (on ukulele) and Lindhome (on acoustic guitar) perform some of their best known material (from their four LPs and various YouTube clips), including "Pregnant Women Are Smug," "Fadeaway" and "Fuck You" (with the latter enhanced with a joyous crowd kazoo-along). Although the duo come off confident and inventive during their performances, their between-song banter and jokes unfortunately feel a bit awkward.
After a mid-special highlight that covers hilarious crass songs about handjobs ("I Don't Understand Jobs") and post-secondary sexual experimentation ("The College Try"), Garkfunkel and Oates hit their stride, combining clips from former tours, hilarious song intros and animated video for a song about Lindhome freezing her eggs (the Emmy nominated "Frozen Lullaby"). On Trying to Be Special, Garkfunkel and Oates prove that they're industrious, clever and possess just enough crowd control to give this comedy special the same energy and panache as any classic concert film.
Exclaim! 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.