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On Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray Romano played a version of himself and perfected the bumbling everyman—a husband who’s just trying to stay out of trouble, but also manages to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Can he ever catch a break?
DIRECTOR: Michael Showalter
Romano falls back on his men-are-idiots material for a special without much new insight.
Well, yes. In the past few years, Romano has starred in The Big Sick as well as Epix’s Get Shorty and HBO’s Vinyl. This month he stars in Netflix original Paddleton. But his first standup special in 23 years, Right Here, Around the Corner, doesn’t feel new. His delivery and aesthetic haven’t changed. Nothing topical. You’re going to get “My wife” jokes.
The special consists of two sets, one at the Comedy Cellar and one at the Village Underground. “I’m gonna go to the Cellar, unannounced,” he says in his walk-up bit. That’s how the Comedy Cellar works for certain comedians, though the practice has seen more scrutiny with the “surprise” return of Louis C.K. The Big Sick director Michael Showalter (perhaps indirectly) frames Romano walking to the club almost like the beginning of Louie, and it could have been shot the same night as Romano’s recent cameo on HBO’s Crashing, where he gives Pete Holmes career advice in front of the Comedy Cellar. He’s even wearing the same shirt.
“We are both gonna be disappointed,” Romano says to the Cellar audience. He also awkwardly tells a man in the front row that the last time he performed there, the audience member was still “on the no-fly list.” Then he gets into it: “I don’t think I’m old, I just know I’m not young,” Romano says before a story about how he recently had to “take a knee” during sex with his wife. He says women run on “points” and constantly need more of them if their husbands want to stay out of the dog house. Also, any dress looks good! Just put one on! Men don’t know stuff!
After a few more stories about fighting with his wife and getting in trouble, he transitions to the second set at Village Underground, which thankfully focuses more on parenting. The highlight is Romano’s bit about getting his daughter settled at college and then finding his twin sons, one with a parking cone on his head and the other looking down into it. This gave him the perfect barometer to gauge which one was stupider. (The one looking into the cone is “at least being inquisitive,” he quips).
I found myself reacting to some of the material like Romano was my own father telling me a bad joke: that closed-mouth smile and silent nod. Romano doesn’t stray far from his foundational men-are-idiots style of comedy, but he also doesn’t offer any deeper insight. The special also continues Netflix’s mission of roping in big-name comedians who have been away from standup for a while, making money elsewhere (Ellen DeGeneres, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld), though those specials felt more polished.
The big reveal gives Right Here a little more weight: After his second set, we see that Romano’s family has been in the audience, and they walk with him down the street and offer thoughts on his set. The abstraction of material dissipates a bit; the people he’s making jokes about are right there. The final shot suggests that maybe Romano and his family will return to Netflix in some capacity, perhaps with another take on Everybody Loves Raymond, but with Romano playing himself.
Need more ideas? Here are our Netflix guides for the best war movies, documentaries, anime, indie flicks, true crime, food shows, gangster movies, Westerns, and movies based on true stories streaming right now. There are also sad movies guaranteed to make you cry, weird movies to melt your brain, and standup specials when you really need to laugh. Or check out Flixable, a search engine for Netflix.
Audra Schroeder is the Daily Dot’s senior entertainment writer, and she focuses on streaming, comedy, and music. Her work has previously appeared in the Austin Chronicle, the Dallas Observer, NPR, ESPN, Bitch, and the Village Voice. She is based in Austin, Texas.