‘Kevin Smith: Silent But Deadly’ Review: Taped Right Before His Heart Attack, A Sharp Reminder of Who We Almost Lost

The standup special, premiering Friday night on Showtime, is a perfect distillation of Smith’s strengths as a performer.

Kevin Smith almost died in jorts.

That’s not exactly a shocking revelation from his new Showtime stand-up special, especially for long-time fans who would be shocked to see him wear denim that reached the ankle. But considering the backstory surrounding his performance, it’s hard not to acknowledge how “Kevin Smith: Silent But Deadly” functions as both a warm reminder of Smith’s gifts as a storyteller and a chilling reminder that one of life’s cruelest tricks is how it can end so quickly.

And that means watching Smith on stage, chatting with confidence about his career, his love of weed, and his combative yet loving relationship with his wife, knowing that minutes after dropping the mike he would have a near-fatal heart attack at the age of 47.

The special is bookended by segments featuring a now-seemingly healthy Smith, hanging out in the dressing room where the heart attack occurred, providing the context for what happened. Which might feel unnecessary until honestly, we consider how much scrutiny we’d give this special were it not framed by such a shocking circumstance. After all, in recent years Smith has provided no shortage of opportunities to hear him speak, making the iconic character of Silent Bob increasingly ironic.

As Joni Mitchell says, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, or nearly gone in this case. And thus in this context “Silent But Deadly” becomes a heartfelt portrait of a performer we nearly lost, drenched in curse words and indulgences and modesty and genuine human kindness.

Smith’s skills as a stand-up extend from his natural ability to simply talk to people; when you listen to him on stage, there’s no sense of him having finely honed pre-written bits. Instead, he really is just doing what comes naturally — talk about his life, frankly, with the signature casual wit that made his early feature films so beloved, and his later embrace of podcasting and stand-up a logical turn.

It’s rare that anyone gets to pick their actual last words, but if “Silent But Deadly” had been Smith’s, here’s what would be left behind: An honest and occasionally caustic but loving portrait of a marriage that’s lasted nearly 20 years. His pride in being a father. A genuine love for what he gets to do, every day. And his urging his audience to “make sure you go out and bullshit before you leave this world,” telling them that he doesn’t feel what he does requires any real talent.

Kevin Smith Silent But Deadly

“I’ll take it one step further,” Smith adds, “it doesn’t take talent at all to work in the movie business. You think it takes talent to stand there on a movie set and say ‘I’m Batman’? Ben Affleck does it so I know it don’t take fucking talent.”

Smith is being modest here (at least in regards to his own talents) but it fits perfectly with the ethos established all the way back in 1995 with his first film, “Clerks.” The incredible success of that film, especially on an indie level, proved the power that a unique voice can have in this industry, no matter the budget, cast, or production value.

And that’s where Smith underestimates himself, because from the beginning, the basis of Smith’s popularity and ascension into the Hollywood ranks has been built on the fact that whether it be through his characters or himself, he has something interesting to say, and he says it like nobody else. There are countless hours of Smith talking available now, via his DVD commentaries, his podcasts, his “An Evening With Kevin Smith” Q&A specials, and more. Can’t get enough there? Go to Twitter or read one of his many books.

Even if you’re not a die-hard fan, he remains compelling to hear or read, and watching “Silent But Deadly,” knowing that this could have been his last hurrah, is at times emotionally tough (even as he packs in the laughs). One of the stories about his wife, for example, ends with a realization about their sex life which concludes with him joking about how they could make a change going forward: “It’s never too late!” he exclaims about the potential promise of daily blowjobs. It’s the sort of thing you say when that feels like a genuine truth, and not a literal falsehood; there is such a thing as “too late.”

Check in on Smith’s Twitter feed today, and he seems in good spirits, active and happy — praise be to modern medicine, and the doctors who saved him to speak another day. Because beyond the reminder to treat life as finite, to live each day as best we can, one of “Silent But Deadly’s” most profound impacts is serving as a reminder that Silent Bob’s voice, when it ever leaves us, will be sorely missed.

Grade: A-

“Kevin Smith: Silent But Deadly” premieres Friday, May 11 at 9 p.m. on Showtime.

Chris Rock turns in half of a great special with his Netflix comeback

Appearing on Hannibal Buress’ podcast back in September, Chris Rock talked shop about the relatively small venue he’d chosen for Tamborine, his first stand-up special in a decade, and his first in a lucrative two-special deal with Netflix. Rock told Buress that the Brooklyn Academy Of Music’s comparatively homey…

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Appearing on Hannibal Buress’ podcast back in September, Chris Rock talked shop about the relatively small venue he’d chosen for Tamborine, his first stand-up special in a decade, and his first in a lucrative two-special deal with Netflix. Rock told Buress that the Brooklyn Academy Of Music’s comparatively homey…

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This year’s list of the top 1,000 comedians has a perfectly 2017 spin to it

While some people may be satisfied with year-end lists consisting of 10 or even 20 entries— some of which are great and you should definitely go read them —others, like comedian Zach Broussard, set their sights a little higher. For the past four years, the L.A.-based comedian has been constructing his definitive list…

Read more…

While some people may be satisfied with year-end lists consisting of 10 or even 20 entries— some of which are great and you should definitely go read them —others, like comedian Zach Broussard, set their sights a little higher. For the past four years, the L.A.-based comedian has been constructing his definitive list…

Read more...

‘Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady’ Review: ‘Daily Show’ Contributor’s HBO Stand-Up Set is A Glorious Overview of Life in 2017

In a year when comedy and the news cycle became impossibly linked, Wolf’s hourlong HBO special is relevant without leaning on headlines.

In the comedy world, 2017 has been a year of struggling to stay timely. When the most monumental breaking news is reduced to a tiny blip in record time, it’s difficult to make something that feels relevant without leaning on that day’s crisis. So in her debut special, “Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady,” Wolf takes a slightly different headline-free tack and ends up with an hourlong set that makes for a very funny time capsule for where we are now.

“Nice Lady” was filmed in mid-August and, as you may have heard, a lot has happened since then. But it’s even more a testament to Wolf’s approach to topics like workplace equality, birth control, and societal expectations that they feel ready-made for the full swath of what this year has offered. Wolf doesn’t have to reference the downfall of powerful men in the past few months when so much of what makes this a great set is the universal truth that existed long before those men’s misdeeds made front pages.

Read More:  ‘Patton Oswalt: Annihilation’ Review: One Man’s Sincere, Selfless Search for Comedy in Times of Personal Tragedy

Hillary, the environment, feminism, and bathrooms can easily sound like a horrible Facebook rant word cloud, but Wolf manages to bring something fresh to each of those subjects. Sometimes it’s her personal perspective (her personal take on reactions to different kinds of voices sets a perfect tone for the rest of the special), but sometimes it’s about adding the tiniest extra detail to a familiar premise (the phrase “quilting” comes up in a particularly unlikely circumstance).

What makes “Nice Lady” so strong is that it never has a manufactured feel. There’s an intensity to some of Wolf’s exasperation about dating norms or human body tendencies that never feels over-exaggerated. It’s one comic’s unapologetic look at life, national conversations, and the state of the species all in one.

Wolf has no false overblown style forcing people to take notice, nor is her approach reserved so as not to upset certain audiences. Like her hunched-over impression of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there’s a sense of control that also makes these insights shine through. In a section about Mother Nature personified, she stays firmly planted and lets a line or two breathe before moving on.

Michelle Wolf Nice Lady HBO

“Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady”

Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

Wolf has been a valuable contributor to “The Daily Show” for the better part of the last two years, after working on the “Late Night with Seth Meyers” writing staff. “Nice Lady” is less zeroed in on public figures than the Weinstein, Rachel Dolezal, and Ivanka Trump segments she’s been on-camera for in the past, but there’s still plenty here about what society expects from women to be mostly evergreen. The specificity isn’t connecting to some outside newsmaker that everyone is directing their anger at for the day — it’s pointing at the absurdities of everyday life with the added knowledge that some people out in the audience (i.e. dudes) might be grappling with these ideas for the first time.

Wolf engages with the crowd in an interesting way, too. Rather than just delivering insights from on high, “Nice Lady” finds her flipping perceptions on the audience, even in the moment. (One Cosby joke is a perfectly laid trap, which the crowd falls for, further proving her point.) Taking on mansplaining without necessarily calling it by name, there’s a very particular delight in the way that Wolf dismantles pervasive assumptions and misconceptions on the male side of the ledger.

When Wolf opens up “Nice Lady” with “What a time to be alive,” there’s definitely a tongue-in-cheek element to it. But for as much as 2017 has been a year of the unthinkable, it’s also been a year of change and getting things out into the open that much of half the population never really considered before. “Nice Lady” isn’t an Do-Better Manual for men, it’s an appreciation of the things women continue to do in the face of double standards. For many of the best jokes in “Nice Lady,” Wolf delivers the punchlines with a knowing smile, not in a smug style, but in a “we’re all in this together” way. With the exception of a well-deserved finale, Wolf isn’t here to bombard you with her own self-assured brilliance. She aims to give voice to a lot of cultural anxiety in a singular way.

By putting even more of those truths out with a wink (be they about nipples, texting, or childbirth) Wolf’s adding her part to the collective self-reflection that this year has been. Once “Nice Lady” is out in the world, Wolf’s future in the comedy world should be even brighter. Let’s hope we can all be so lucky.

Grade: A-

“Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady” premieres December 2 at 9:00 p.m. on HBO. It will be available to stream on HBOGO beginning December 3. 

Patton Oswalt Gets Personal About Wife’s Death in New ‘Annihilation’ Netflix Comedy Special

In “Patton Oswalt: Annihilation,” the comedian opens up about the death of his wife and how he dealt with his grief over the past year.

It’s therapeutic, but it’s very, very terrifying getting to the therapeutic part. Really terrifying,” Oswalt told TheWrap ahead of the special’s release. He added that “it can be really frightening” to use his grief as part of his comedy because “I don’t know if it’ll end up being therapeutic and I don’t know if it’ll end up like, tainting the therapy if I’m also doing it as part of my comedy.”

Oswalt’s late wife, true crime author Michelle Eileen McNamara, died suddenly last year at age 46 due to a combination of prescription drugs and a previously unknown heart condition.

“Comedy is what I do,” he said. “So I don’t know any other way to [get through this].” 

Also Read: Christopher Meloni Meets Patton Oswalt as a Flying Horse in First ‘Happy!’ Trailer (Video)

I do draw on my real life [for my comedy],” Oswalt said. “I mean, I definitely draw on my emotions–definitely if I’m talking about the world, talking about politics or pop culture or just any kind of cosmic idea or philosophic idea. But then I also draw upon my real life if there’s something that happens to me directly that I think can be turned into an insightful, comedic [point].” 

Oswalt, a noted pop culture connoisseur, said “pop culture failed me” after his wife’s sudden death in 2016. In the special, there’s a bit where he talks about superheroes and their seemingly impractical cemetery visits (always at night, in the rain). But as he recounts in the special, maybe they’re on to something.

Although superheroes failed Oswalt in helping to deal with his grief, he did tell us his favorite superhero: Spiderman.

Also Read: Patton Oswalt Says His Late Wife’s True-Crime Book Will Be Published Next Year

Only because Spiderman is the one superhero that is very, very–just in a blue collar working class sense–is the one that’s very, very aware of, like, economics and day to day hassles and how superpowers don’t necessarily fix that,” Oswalt said. 

“He’s the one superhero that you could see going, ‘oh man I can’t afford a Venti latte, I could get a tall regular, then I’ll have enough for bus fare.’ That’s like a very real thing, and it really draws you in,” he added. 

He also pointed out that the latest Spiderman movie, “Spiderman: Homecoming,” is the “first combination” of the superhero genre that exploded under the Obama era and the “struggles of the working class”-themed movies he sees coming out now during the Trump presidency. 

Also Read: Patton Oswalt Says Daughter Saved Him From Being ‘a Shut-in Alcoholic’

Which brings us to Donald Trump.

In the special, Oswalt says he can empathize with the president, who left a life of luxury for a job “he so openly doesn’t want to do.”

“You can empathize with a sh—y person,” he said.

“You can… go, ‘woah, I can imagine what it is that person’s feeling,’ and you can also go, ‘but it’s really sh—y they’re feeling that way,’” Oswalt said. “They’re feeling that way because they’re a terrible person.”

Also Read: Patton Oswalt Tapped to Replace Bobby Moynihan as Lead Voice on SyFy’s ‘Happy!’

Trump is “clearly” unhappy in his latest job as commander-in-chief, Oswalt says, “because he took the whole job out of spite, which I think is just kind of the fuel of his life, is all spite and revenge, is all he knows.”

“Annihilation” is Oswalt’s second Netflix special; “Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping” won him a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special in 2016. Oswalt told TheWrap he like working with Netflix because of the “why not feeling” at the company. 

When you get associated with Netflix, you’re associated with a certain kind of comedy, this very risk-taking–not just in the content but in the choice of Netflix itself–like, ‘oh let’s try this new person, let’s see what happens,’” Oswalt said. It doesn’t hurt that several of his friends, like Dave Chappelle and Amy Schumer, also have specials on the streaming platform. 

Also Read: Sean Spicer Gets a Hilarious Hollywood Send-Off on Twitter

Netflix is “curating” comedians in a way that turns the audience into comedy “connoisseurs,” he said. 

You can watch “Patton Oswalt: Annihilation” on Tuesday, October 17 on Netflix.

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In “Patton Oswalt: Annihilation,” the comedian opens up about the death of his wife and how he dealt with his grief over the past year.

It’s therapeutic, but it’s very, very terrifying getting to the therapeutic part. Really terrifying,” Oswalt told TheWrap ahead of the special’s release. He added that “it can be really frightening” to use his grief as part of his comedy because “I don’t know if it’ll end up being therapeutic and I don’t know if it’ll end up like, tainting the therapy if I’m also doing it as part of my comedy.”

Oswalt’s late wife, true crime author Michelle Eileen McNamara, died suddenly last year at age 46 due to a combination of prescription drugs and a previously unknown heart condition.

“Comedy is what I do,” he said. “So I don’t know any other way to [get through this].” 

I do draw on my real life [for my comedy],” Oswalt said. “I mean, I definitely draw on my emotions–definitely if I’m talking about the world, talking about politics or pop culture or just any kind of cosmic idea or philosophic idea. But then I also draw upon my real life if there’s something that happens to me directly that I think can be turned into an insightful, comedic [point].” 

Oswalt, a noted pop culture connoisseur, said “pop culture failed me” after his wife’s sudden death in 2016. In the special, there’s a bit where he talks about superheroes and their seemingly impractical cemetery visits (always at night, in the rain). But as he recounts in the special, maybe they’re on to something.

Although superheroes failed Oswalt in helping to deal with his grief, he did tell us his favorite superhero: Spiderman.

Only because Spiderman is the one superhero that is very, very–just in a blue collar working class sense–is the one that’s very, very aware of, like, economics and day to day hassles and how superpowers don’t necessarily fix that,” Oswalt said. 

“He’s the one superhero that you could see going, ‘oh man I can’t afford a Venti latte, I could get a tall regular, then I’ll have enough for bus fare.’ That’s like a very real thing, and it really draws you in,” he added. 

He also pointed out that the latest Spiderman movie, “Spiderman: Homecoming,” is the “first combination” of the superhero genre that exploded under the Obama era and the “struggles of the working class”-themed movies he sees coming out now during the Trump presidency. 

Which brings us to Donald Trump.

In the special, Oswalt says he can empathize with the president, who left a life of luxury for a job “he so openly doesn’t want to do.”

“You can empathize with a sh—y person,” he said.

“You can… go, ‘woah, I can imagine what it is that person’s feeling,’ and you can also go, ‘but it’s really sh—y they’re feeling that way,'” Oswalt said. “They’re feeling that way because they’re a terrible person.”

Trump is “clearly” unhappy in his latest job as commander-in-chief, Oswalt says, “because he took the whole job out of spite, which I think is just kind of the fuel of his life, is all spite and revenge, is all he knows.”

“Annihilation” is Oswalt’s second Netflix special; “Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping” won him a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special in 2016. Oswalt told TheWrap he like working with Netflix because of the “why not feeling” at the company. 

When you get associated with Netflix, you’re associated with a certain kind of comedy, this very risk-taking–not just in the content but in the choice of Netflix itself–like, ‘oh let’s try this new person, let’s see what happens,'” Oswalt said. It doesn’t hurt that several of his friends, like Dave Chappelle and Amy Schumer, also have specials on the streaming platform. 

Netflix is “curating” comedians in a way that turns the audience into comedy “connoisseurs,” he said. 

You can watch “Patton Oswalt: Annihilation” on Tuesday, October 17 on Netflix.

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Ellen DeGeneres Stages Return to Stand-Up With Netflix Special

Netflix has booked another famous stand-up comedian for a special.

The streaming service announced Wednesday that daytime talk show phenomenon Ellen DeGeneres is returning to the stage for the first time in 15 years.

It announced the special in a cheeky tweet sent out Wednesday morning.

Looks like it’s been 15 years since you did a stand-up special, @TheEllenShow. How about one for Netflix?

— Netflix US (@netflix) May 24, 2017

To which DeGeneres had a speedy reply.

Let me think about it. Ok I’m in. https://t.co/kUAdHyXAjS

Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) May 24, 2017

Also Read: Ellen DeGeneres Won’t Host Trump: ‘He’s Against Everything I Stand for’ (Video)

She also made the announcement on her show Wednesday.

“Earlier this week, I got a Tweet from the people at Netflix and I have good news and bad news. The bad news is they wouldn’t tell me what happened to Barb on ‘Stranger Things,’ but the good news is they asked if I was interested in doing a stand-up special,” she told her audience, who cheered before they could even hear her response.

“I said I’m going to have to think about it and then 30 seconds later I said yes. Exciting!” she continued.

You can watch the announcement below.

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DeGeneres also added that she’s writing it now and she’s excited to jump back in.

“It has been 15 years since I did a stand-up special. 15 years,” she said. “I’ll keep you posted when and where I’m gonna shoot my Netflix special. I’m excited to do it; I’m excited for you to see it.”

The last time DeGeneres performed stand-up was in a series of Emmy-nominated HBO specials: 2001’s “Ellen DeGeneres: The Beginning” and 2003’s Ellen DeGeneres: Here and Now.”

Since 2003, she’s been bringing her brand of humor to daytime TV with “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which is now in its 14th season. The show has won more than 50 Daytime Emmy awards and has been nominated for dozens more.

Netflix has been ramping up the number of comedy specials it releases. In 2017 alone, the service scheduled over 20 specials, including ones by Dave Chappelle, Maria Bamford, Amy Schumer and more.

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Netflix has booked another famous stand-up comedian for a special.

The streaming service announced Wednesday that daytime talk show phenomenon Ellen DeGeneres is returning to the stage for the first time in 15 years.

It announced the special in a cheeky tweet sent out Wednesday morning.

To which DeGeneres had a speedy reply.

She also made the announcement on her show Wednesday.

“Earlier this week, I got a Tweet from the people at Netflix and I have good news and bad news. The bad news is they wouldn’t tell me what happened to Barb on ‘Stranger Things,’ but the good news is they asked if I was interested in doing a stand-up special,” she told her audience, who cheered before they could even hear her response.

“I said I’m going to have to think about it and then 30 seconds later I said yes. Exciting!” she continued.

You can watch the announcement below.

DeGeneres also added that she’s writing it now and she’s excited to jump back in.

“It has been 15 years since I did a stand-up special. 15 years,” she said. “I’ll keep you posted when and where I’m gonna shoot my Netflix special. I’m excited to do it; I’m excited for you to see it.”

The last time DeGeneres performed stand-up was in a series of Emmy-nominated HBO specials: 2001’s “Ellen DeGeneres: The Beginning” and 2003’s Ellen DeGeneres: Here and Now.”

Since 2003, she’s been bringing her brand of humor to daytime TV with “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which is now in its 14th season. The show has won more than 50 Daytime Emmy awards and has been nominated for dozens more.

Netflix has been ramping up the number of comedy specials it releases. In 2017 alone, the service scheduled over 20 specials, including ones by Dave Chappelle, Maria Bamford, Amy Schumer and more.

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Chris Rock Announces 2017 ‘Total Blackout’ Stand-Up Tour

On the same day that Jimmy Kimmel was named 2017 Oscars host, 88th Academy Awards’ host announced that he is returning to stand-up.

Chris Rock shared the news with fans on social media that he’ll be hitting the road for the first time in nine years with his “Total Blackout” tour next year.

“Tonight, I am announcing that I, Chris Rock, am going on tour. The ‘Total Blackout’ tour is coming to your town in 2017,” Rock said in a Facebook Live video shot outside the Comedy Store on Hollywood’s Sunset Blvd.

Also Read: Jimmy Kimmel Dishes on Oscars Hosting Gig: ‘Maybe I’ll Wear Jean Shorts’

“First time in nine years, haven’t done it in awhile. Been a little busy, You know, writing ‘Pootie Tang 3’ and everything. But hey, it’s time, OK,” he continued.

“See this guy right here?” Rock asked, pointing to his own photo on the Comedy Store Wall of Fame. “This guy is going on tour. I’m coming to your town, I’ve got all new material and I can’t wait to see you b—-s.”

It’s going to be a busy few months for Rock, who is set to star in two Netflix specials, which will presumedly be filmed on his “Total Blackout” tour.

Also Read: Chris Rock to Star in Two Netflix Stand-Up Specials

Chris Rock is a beloved actor and director, and his remarkable stand-up makes him comic royalty. There is no one like him, and Netflix offers the global platform and creative freedom that will serve as a perfect home for someone with his incredible talent,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement when the streaming specials were announced in October.

Rock’s tour begins Feb. 14 in Durham, North Carolina, and concludes on May 25 back in Cherokee, North Carolina, with dates across the country in between.

See the full schedule here.

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Chris Rock to Star in Two Netflix Stand-Up Specials

On the same day that Jimmy Kimmel was named 2017 Oscars host, 88th Academy Awards’ host announced that he is returning to stand-up.

Chris Rock shared the news with fans on social media that he’ll be hitting the road for the first time in nine years with his “Total Blackout” tour next year.

“Tonight, I am announcing that I, Chris Rock, am going on tour. The ‘Total Blackout’ tour is coming to your town in 2017,” Rock said in a Facebook Live video shot outside the Comedy Store on Hollywood’s Sunset Blvd.

“First time in nine years, haven’t done it in awhile. Been a little busy, You know, writing ‘Pootie Tang 3’ and everything. But hey, it’s time, OK,” he continued.

“See this guy right here?” Rock asked, pointing to his own photo on the Comedy Store Wall of Fame. “This guy is going on tour. I’m coming to your town, I’ve got all new material and I can’t wait to see you b—-s.”

It’s going to be a busy few months for Rock, who is set to star in two Netflix specials, which will presumedly be filmed on his “Total Blackout” tour.

Chris Rock is a beloved actor and director, and his remarkable stand-up makes him comic royalty. There is no one like him, and Netflix offers the global platform and creative freedom that will serve as a perfect home for someone with his incredible talent,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement when the streaming specials were announced in October.

Rock’s tour begins Feb. 14 in Durham, North Carolina, and concludes on May 25 back in Cherokee, North Carolina, with dates across the country in between.

See the full schedule here.

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