John Hodgman Ragnorak

John Hodgman Ragnorak
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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.
 

Over the past decade, John Hodgman has done much to assure he'd be known for more than just being the "'PC Guy" to Justin Long's "Mac Guy." The Brookline, MA comedian has since expanded his craft, releasing a series of faux-almanac books, appearing as a correspondent on The Daily Show and hosting his own podcast, Judge John Hodgman — all while portraying a blustery know-it-all character that sharply contrasts with his role in the aforementioned Apple commercials.
 
His first stand-up special, Ragnarok, taped at the Bell House in Brooklyn, documents the last date of his 2012 tour, themed around the idea of the impending (at the time) Mayan apocalypse. Recorded at midnight on December 12, 2012, Ragnorak uses multiple visual jokes to set the scene, as the stage is decorated to look like a fallout shelter (complete with jars of "survival mayonnaise," urine and a barrel full of alcohol).
 
After a humorous introduction from Mr. Show and 30 Rock alum Scott Adsit, Hodgman greets the audience portraying his ongoing role as "deranged billionaire." Throughout the 67-minute special, Hodgman wavers between this character and his calm, real-life calm demeanour, also breaking the focus away from his material concerning the end of the world, speaking about his distaste for sports, hilariously pointing out the American imperialism inherent in football.
 
But Hodgman shows just how intelligent, original and resourceful his comedy can be, incorporating music (a performance by Cynthia Hopkins), crowd work (sending a 14-year-old outside the venue to watch for danger) and one-man-show performances (brilliantly demonstrated during the countdown to Ragnarok). Hodgman's special is a twisted, clever variety show from a comedian who's built a career around a variety of comedic avenues.