By Molly McAtee
On February 5th, Netflix released a comedy special, titled Right Here, Around the Corner, starring beloved jokester Ray Romano. Directed by Michael Showalter, Romano took the stage and created his first special in 23 years to discuss the trials and tribulations of being a father and husband in his 60s. Despite this long gap between filming, Romano was a complete natural. He gave off a very casual and carefree vibe, which may be attributed to the comfort of performing in the clubs that started his career.
First, Romano visited his old local clubs, the Comedy Cellar and the Village Underground, surprising two audiences full of lifelong fans. In both clubs, his presence filled the rooms with applause, as he made his way onto the stages that he use to perform six nights a week more than 30 years ago. Upon grabbing the microphone and settling back into his old comedic homes, he immediately made a connection with the crowd. They cheered almost uncontrollably as he made one-on-one interactions with those lucky enough for front row seats. By establishing this relationship so early on in the act, Romano relieved any tension that was in the room and created a genuine and relaxed atmosphere for the guests to just sit back and be consumed by laughter. He then went on to tell hilarious anecdotes in his classic awkward, yet approachable style. Most of the set consisted of self-deprecating humor, including making fun of his age and underselling his talent. He also spent a majority of the shows talking about the pains of married life and the struggles of raising four children.
However, while Romano’s jokes were chuckle worthy, none of them really stood out. This may have to do with the fact that we have all heard this type of dialogue before. Sure, complaining about how you do not understand your wife is relatable and slightly humorous, but it just feels completely overdone. Romano simply regurgitated the same stand up that audiences have been subjected to for years, without offering a new take on the subject. After about twenty minutes of listening to his overdramatic bewilderment at his wife’s behavior, I started to wonder if the audience was laughing because of his jokes or because they were sitting in front of a man with such status and fame.
Furthermore, the special attempted to give a more personable and easygoing feel, which came off as unprofessional and cringeworthy. For example, there were multiple scenes of Romano walking to the next set without saying much that was left unedited. You were forced to watch the comedian embarrassingly mumble to himself as he did nothing more than trudge down a street for three minutes. While I understand it was meant to make the viewer feel more in touch with Romano and to allow us to get a glimpse of him in his more natural state, decisions like this just made the special feel amateurish and lazy. Honestly, it almost felt like these scenes were there to just fill up the time, since they really did not serve a purpose at all.
Overall, Romano’s Right Here, Around the Corner was worth watching once, but really only for the nostalgia. It was nice seeing the comedian back doing what he loves to do, but his jokes were not as well thought out or current as one would hope. I do give him credit for being so pleasant and real with his audience, but his personality was not enough to make the show. Ultimately, Romano needs to work on getting some newer material and expanding his humor. If he had just included a more unique approach to his dialogue or if the editing was less lackluster, then the special might have had a chance of actually being pretty special. However, as it stands, it was nothing more than average and, therefore, it gets a Grade C from this reviewer.