One Thing I Love Today: Donald Glover does stand-up in new DVD ‘Weirdo’

I’m not 100% sure the people who released the DVD version of Donald Glover’s one-hour stand-up special “Weirdo” actually watched the special.  When you watch the disc, all the previews are for black-themed entertainment of the Tyler Perry school, very specifically targeted, and none of them remotely similar to the work that Glover does.

I first became aware of Donald and his work when I saw “Mystery Team” at Sundance a few years ago, and it’s amazing how quickly things have blown up for him.  Little wonder, though.  He is a prodigiously talented guy, and in many ways, he represents the ideal for how you have to be willing to work these days, doing any number of different things.  He was a staff writer for “30 Rock,” he’s a star on “Community,” he’s releasing albums as Childish Gambino, and, yes, he’s got his own comedy material that he does.

I’m not sure I’d call him a stand-up by classic definition.  He is much more of a storyteller, and his material is largely based on attitude.  He’s not really building one-liner jokes so much as he’s presenting an overall persona that makes a nice complement to the other work he does.  If you only know his work from “Community,” this is a primer in how much Troy is not Donald Glover and vice versa.

The special is gleefully dirty at times, but it’s also got some really sharp observations about race built in, including Donald talking about the entire incident involving him and “Spider-Man.”  It’s the sort of special that really helps define someone, and I certainly finished it with a renewed sense of who he is as a performer.  I particularly loved the final story he tells, about a weekend morning trip to Home Depot by him and his brothers, and so much of what works about his comedy is his character work.  He is great at evoking a situation and bringing it to life, and there’s an unflinching honesty about himself that underlines the work that he does.

The big surprise of his musical work as Childish Gambino is that it’s not a joke, and I know that the first time I played the album “I Am Not A Rapper,” it shocked me because I expected something very different.  In this case, not every actor who decides to do stand-up can make that jump easily, but I have stopped being surprised by how talented Glover is.

“Weirdo” is available on DVD April 10, 2012.

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