Standup comedy is a popular but dated medium, so it's easy to question whether comic Dan Klein's concept of an entire hour mocking the foundations of standup is even novel. But oh God, it is. It is a hilarious and painful. Even his hoodie, untucked shirt, and jeans feel like holy talismans of the utterly average standup.
“This is Comedy” is an aggressive throwdown of standup cliches. The opening montage of fellow comics singing Klein's praises is a riot (“He's a genius… and I'm not being paid to say that, it's a very private thought,” muses Kate Berlant), and Klein's ensuing rants about Starbucks, Jewishness, and women are grimly commonplace. The best moment occurs during an interstitial sketch where Klein, playing an in-demand comic, shows up to an open mic and demands to be put onstage in place of the other, lesser-known standups. “This is Comedy” is satire, but there's a critical element of pain in the mix. Clutch your heart like a mic stand and watch.