“I’d do an impression of my dad, but I don’t have a newspaper and five hours to spare.”
“One of the Greats” — comedian and writer Chelsea Peretti’s first hour-long special — was released Friday on Netflix. Peretti made it clear she doesn’t need much more than five minutes to impress an audience, whether it’s at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts or in the living room of my apartment.
Peretti’s credentials are impressive: She was as an opener for Aziz Ansari in his 2012 Buried Alive tour and has writing credits on “Parks and Recreation” and “Saturday Night Live,” as well as a role on the Fox comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” She’s performed at Just For Laughs in Montreal, SXSW and Bonnaroo. Her experience shows in a special that was long overdue.
Peretti’s special opens up with her driving a motorcycle around the Bay Area as she narrates in a Clint Eastwood-esque voice. She talks about fictitious specials she’s previously stared in, but how this one is finally going to show her real self. Clips of her starring in fake comedy specials, delivering unexplained punchlines — such as “I’m still tired” or “It’s go time” — to a roaring audience are inserted in between shots of the Golden Gate Bridge or Lombard Street. In one of these supposed specials, she mocks Eddie Murphy’s red leather suit from his 1983 “Delirious” special by wearing one of her own.
In a further attempt to make fun of herself and to prove that the special’s title is more ironic than conceited, she prays — giving thanks to God for her humility — immediately followed by channeling her inner Kanye and saying she’s a direct vessel of God.
Staged scenes continue throughout the live special, which took me a second to fully grasp. In the end, though, it helped distinguish Peretti from other stand-ups. Dogs are shown sitting in the audience, two people next to each other in the crowd start hooking up, a man walks through the aisles with a leaf blower — all spectacles that Peretti has to address on stage.
I can’t imagine how fun it had to be as an audience member filming this special. Although it was unorthodox, the staged segments split throughout the special were a fresh take on stand-up and were executed successfully.
Peretti continued to bring the audience — and myself — an exclusive experience through her style on stage. She’s a total embodiment of anyone and everyone’s awkward quirks, which made her observations on society relatable, yet unpredictable.
Sometimes her musings were short — like when she deemed that Germany’s outlawing of jokes about the Holocaust is sort of a fascist approach to anti-Semitism. Another time, she wondered what her walls would say if they could talk, deciding that it would be something along the lines of “B—-, (are) you in bed again?” Other times, she had longer rants. Peretti easily has the best segues and transitions I’ve ever seen. Comedians Ansari, John Mulaney and Bo Burnham — some of my favorite comedians — don’t come close. In one instance, Peretti connected bits on male confidence, bringing a dead dog to a party, dating advice and her childhood Halloween costumes.
Sometimes, she disrupted that flow with interjections, like when she inquired — out of the blue — which is the worst of two acts: wearing a fedora or killing 15 people?
Peretti also delivered an innovative perspective on feminism. She applauded Jodi Arias for murdering her ex-boyfriend, saying that since murder is mostly a man’s game, Arias broke a glass ceiling. She made fun of men and women alike, always using a surfer voice for any man she impersonated and a nasally voice for every girl. She made fun of both the hot girl who posts a picture with the hashtag #nomakeup as well as the inevitable guy who “rides in on a horse” into the comment section and says, “Cassandra, I actually think you look better without makeup.” In Peretti’s eyes, men and women equally cause her social discomfort.
Peretti nails it in “One of the Greats.” I’m usually reluctant when it comes to actually laughing out loud, but there I was, alone on my couch, laughing hysterically and making my housemates question my sanity from the safe haven of our kitchen. I honestly can’t recommend Peretti enough.