Published Aug 05, 2016When a human being poses for a photograph, they tend to suck it in and plaster on a nice smile. They want to project the best image of themselves. As such, a whole album full of posed photographs is hardly a representation of reality. The real story of a school is not written in the yearbook. The great storytellers fill in all the cracks between frames. On Funny for a Girl, Jay Mohr does not fill in the cracks.
Admittedly, I have not kept up with Jay Mohr much over the years. My lifetime experience with the guy mostly came from his sparse appearances on Saturday Night Live during the winding down of the legendary sketch show's second renaissance in early-to-mid '90s, in his best role as Zack in 1999's Go, as the arrogant Brett Campbell in the underrated post-Pulp Fiction crime thriller Suicide Kings, but mostly as slimy sports agent Bob Sugar in Cameron Crowe's seminal Jerry Maguire from 1996. Much like David Spade, he played a believable douchebag.
Now, it seems as though Mohr has swung a little too far in the other direction. Sometime between his greasy '90s heyday and 2012's Funny for a Girl, he became a mildly racier version of Ray Romano.
Netflix describes the special, touted as his first in over seven years, as "a set of wild Hollywood stories, plus impressions of Christopher Walken, Adam Sandler and more." Sure, the impressions are there, which you would hope for considering that's largely what his comedy is known for, but there are no wild Hollywood stories. Mohr married a nice woman, hit his 40s and had a couple of kids — that's primarily what this hour of tedium is all about.
That's not to say comedy sets largely about aging and kids can't be funny. The way that Patton Oswalt, Louie CK, and, to a lesser extent, Jim Gaffigan approach those topics, it's a consistent revelation. They attack their stories with more exaggeration, honesty and self-conscious introspection, exacting poetry in their lingual construction, thoughtful imagery and political satire. Through the observed pains and foibles of growing a child into an adult and growing themselves towards old age, they parlay expansive realisations relatable even to those who aren't that age yet or don't have/want kids.
Contrastingly, and with all due credit to his energy and timing, Mohr mostly relays mildly exaggerated stories about poop, pee and how boys are different from girls. Largely barren of insight, he paints pictures of moments that you probably had to be there for to find humorous. It's a surface level glossing over of day-to-day blah rife with clichés and pandering: babies poop a lot, there are lots of diapers at the store, young boys are gross, women are mature and so on. They knew that everyone is a little gay in ancient Greece, so that's hardly a revelation now, but that's a eureka moment of Mohr's set.
At one point, he employs the old "I don't do transitional material" bit that George Carlin did better on 2001's Complaints and Grievances. However, while it added pause to Carlin's onslaught, the bit was pretty out of place in Mohr's pandering, since he never really transitioned. He did a solid 45 minutes on his kids, and about ten minutes of impressions based on CSI: Miami, Law and Order and To Catch a Predator, the latter of which remains especially relevant since it was cancelled five years before this special was even filmed. It took him all of a single minute to go from his tired "it's so hot in San Bernardino (how hot is it?)" intro into his "kids say/do the darndest things" comfort zone, and only brief forays into his marriage and TV shows pop up after that.
Mohr's message is positive, though. The last thing he said, echoing a bit about his own son halfway through his set, was that if your child turns out to be gay, you should love and support them with all of your might, 'cause there are far too many people getting bullied out there. It makes you all feel warm inside.
Granted, this oddly titled special — considering he never addresses it or anything that would make sense of the hairy-chested boobs on the cover — is a lukewarm mess as bland as a pancake batter. Yet, ultimately, compassion is a better look for Mohr. Lord knows the world doesn't need another David Spade.
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.