Published Oct 14, 2016Rob Schneider's 2013 special Soy Sauce and the Holocaust takes its name from the comedian's "cross-cultural background" — specifically his Filipino mother and Jewish father. Given the material of the performance as a whole, and the fact that he discusses his mother in relation to culture in far greater detail than his father, it seems that having the term Holocaust in the title was purely for shock value.
The special starts off with Schneider telling the audience about being famous and getting recognized. It's not particularly engaging, because it's difficult to relate to and it fails to significantly improve when he shifts the power dynamic so that older black women force him to explain why they recognize him.
Soy Sauce and the Holocaust doesn't push as many boundaries as you might expect from the title. The comedian focuses on a lot of common topics like aging, dogs' thoughts, boarding order for flights, commercials, the side effects of drugs, and (most of all) the differences between men and women. If you feel like I'm giving it away, I'm not. The jokes go exactly where you'd assume.
We've all heard men tell jokes about women having a lot of shoes, talking a lot, and faking orgasms. It'd be sexist if it didn't feel so dated that it fails to matter. Then again, it might just be that Schneider, who is now in his 40s, is a comedian meant for audiences that are a bit older or more conservative than the typical standup audiences in their 20s and 30s. The majority of younger and more liberal audiences will probably skip this special soon after hitting play.
At a certain point you tune out the sexism only to notice the Islamophobic turn his joke about airport security takes. He goes from citing the Bill of Rights to explaining that only those with really long names should have to undergo security checks that violate those rights — he then provides a clearly Muslim-sounding name as an example. Perhaps he had a different aim for the joke but it appears to be encouraging racial profiling to make things more comfortable for the dominant culture at the expense of those who are different; it is a strangely unaccepting moment given his background and the fact that his wife is Mexican.
The strongest parts of the show are when he tells stories about his mother and cultural differences when he was a child or his mother feeling she can talk to him about her sex life when he became an adult — but by the time you get to those moments, the consistent impressions of women of colour feel repetitive, sexist, racist and boring.
On the plus side, this is better than Schneider's sitcom Real Rob. So that's something.
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.