John Caparulo knows his audience. A Southern good ole boy, he punctuates his drawling bits with foul-mouthed rejoinders that give him laughs on top of laughs. He jokes about baseball, sex and marriage with a nasal twang that somewhere between a Tennessee barfly and an old-timey prospector. But it is when he upends expectations on these topics that he truly shines.
Caparulo wins his audience over with relatable material in this 2013 special's first half. He riffs about feeling overdressed when he wears a button-down shirt, ("That's real dressed up to me. Fuckin'… buttons"), or how badly he feels when he throws out a crummy pitch at a baseball game but is applauded like a charity case, ("They're clapping like, 'Yeah, that's a good throw… for a sick little girl'"). He also has the best, "Annoying guy next to you on a plane" bit I've heard in a while. If you want to talk to me on a plane, he argues, at least have a point. Don't ask where you're headed — ("Same place you're going, buddy") — but if you have something pertinent to share ("Hey, did you see? This plane only has one wing!") by all means, strike up a conversation.
Where he really shines is when he takes common tropes and subverts them. Rather than bitching about his wife in tired, "Marriage is a prison" shtick, Caparulo talks about how marriage has changed him for the better. "People get birthday cards from me now," he marvels, delighted.
Another area he tackles with polish is sexual timidity. Funny throughout, he speaks frankly about feeling inadequate as a lover, and having trouble with hook-ups, one night stands, or sexual impropriety. His bits about phone sex, kinks, and relations with his wife might seem prudish, but are refreshingly progressive from a straight male comic. And the bit referencing the title of the special is, deservedly, the biggest laugh of the hour.
Unfortunately, my enthusiasm waned when two closing bits turned out to be not much more than extended gay panic jokes, one about fearing sodomy by a ghost wielding a machete, and another about the uncomfortable closeness required during a skydiving lesson. But these alone are not reasons to write off an otherwise pretty solid hour. You know what you're getting with John Caparulo, but those occasions where he defies convention make Come Inside Me truly succeed.
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.