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SHANE GILLIS – THE AUSTIN SPECIAL – THE TIP OF THE SHANE GILLIS SPEAR
Shane Gillis’s Live in Austin, has now been viewed somewhere between 12 and 20 million times if you add up all the platforms. I don’t know how many Netflix specials beyond the Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Bill Burr, Ricky Gervais specials come even close to that number. I think probably not too many. This speaks I guess to the power of the new world, but even more to the power of Shane Gillis. My friend Dan Soder, no slouch himself, said to me awhile back, “Shane Gillis is a once in a generation level talent”. I obviously agree.
BONE MARROW FUNNY
Anyone who reads this blog or my Standup world Substack, since day one, knows how much I think about this guy’s talent, style, and place in the moment. He’s just a funny fucker. Bone marrow funny. Definitely the next down the line from Bill Burr and Ricky Gervais in terms of just speaking a truth that seems to roll out of the side of his mouth with an almost magical ease. Yet, like those two, there’s so much more going on below the surface, backstage, and in other exercises of the craft with this guy. Whether it’s his amazing sketch show Gilly and Keeves, his podcast with Matt McCusker, Matt and Shanes secret podcast. Or any of his appearances on JRE or a dozen other podcasts, there’s a bumbling brilliance that hard work, an amazing ear, a passion for the craft, and a sledgehammer level of talent and vision are allowing him to make it look like he’s just making it all up as he goes along.
THE AUSTIN SPECIAL
The Austin special though is the tip of the spear. It’s the opening salvo. There’s a reason that anyone that has seen it will talk about it over and over and over again. There’s a good six or so bits that are just so organically funny that they need to be rewatched and retold. From his talk of his dad, to his racist/ hungry analogy, and even little lines like his dad’s coining of ‘Hidden Figures’ as, ‘Madea goes to the Moon.’ The special, his debut special, sits alongside of Chappelle’s Sticks and Stones, and Burr’s Paper Tiger in dealing with the world as it, real time, in a raucous, and rowdy, yet still controlled and smoothly paced journey. His very first special. A complete win.
It never stops or slows down. He just stands there and let’s joke and riff’s fly, one after another, as if he’s in a batting cage smacking one ball after the next. He’s Babe Ruth as a stand-up. Just a big lug of a white guy, supposedly at the end of his race and his gender’s time in the sun, leading the pack, setting the bar for the next era of stand-up to come.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
The Shane Gillis train has left the building. There’s no doubt. The gun’s been fired. He’s out there headlining theatres, and will be in arenas before long. I’m sure there’s another special coming, maybe Netflix, more seasons of Gilly and Keeves, which is without a doubt the best sketch show being made right now. I’m still snickering at what a moronic move Lorne Michaels made in letting him go. I think he’s right up there with Bert Kreischer and Sebastian in the ‘which of these guys is going to be the first break-out comedy movie star’ and he hasn’t even done a movie yet. (Mark my words, comedy films are coming back, and these are the guys, and the guys that follow after them, that will bring it on.)
TIP OF THE SPEAR
But this special is the starting point. That’s why, if you haven’t seen this it in it’s entirety, I urge you to watch it. You’ll laugh your ass off, and more, you’ll understand what it is that people are loving about Shane Gillis. It’s all right here in this effortless little picnic of a set. This is the kick the door open special that every comic dreams of making, and he made it. Just set it out there on the world and it caused a ruckus. No production value, no swooping cranes, nothing. Just this dude in a t-shirt standing onstage in a little club. Sold by word of mouth, viewed millions and millions of times. No marketing campaign, nothing.
Nice to know it still works that way.
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