Some comics get lazy as success blunts their need for public acclaim. Some lose touch with the funny, especially when they’re churning out material too quickly. Not all of them, I should add, but it’s a common trajectory. The zeitgeist is a competitive place and a comedian with Tom Segura’s work ethic (and lifestyle) will be expected to release a comedy special almost every year. It’s too often.
Specials need material. They also need to let the comic’s personality shine through; and somehow stay true to his or her authentic comedy voice. Tom Segura has the personality down. He’s a veteran performer. The weekly podcast Your Mom’s House (with his wife, Christina Pazsitzky) is a perfect outlet for honing his public authenticity while also running dozens of very profitable lines of merch. The brand is in great shape.
But success and wealth make acquiring relatable material more difficult, doubly so when very busy with lifestyle and family and running a business empire. Quality suffers on stage. What’s more, many comics end up resenting having to churn out yet another hour and this resentment can come out as mean-spiritedness in the act. Tom Segura’s Ball Hog special is, unfortunately, a case in point. It wasn’t a nice show to watch.
The first half-hour is passable, unspectacular, perfunctory fare. Tom Segura going through the motions. He’s a great comic after all, with an army of fans who’ve come to his show predisposed to be receptive and determined to laugh. This is fortunate, for the sake of this Netflix special, because Tom’s material started average and soon grew genuinely tedious; a lot of poking fun but very little funny in the poking.
Here’s an example: Tom spends five minutes complaining about passengers on airplanes who want to look out in wonderment at the sky and therefore, if it’s an early flight, open a window shade to let daylight into the darkened cabin of overworked commuters. Tom goes on to mock the intrusion as infantile, with a limp-wristed whining voice. Really? It’s a bad sign when a comedy millionaire resorts to hating on joy, however basic.
I don’t give a f*ck about political correctness. I’m not into constantly analyzing comedy to make sure it’s punching up and not down. But there’s something mirthless about petty mean-spiritedness that’s also lazy. I suspect less popular comedians would find this out more easily than a comic of Tom Segura’s stature. The loyal fanbase audience will laugh at the mere attempted joke, which makes for a bad litmus on whether a bit is actually funny or not.
25 minutes into Ball Hog: Tom’s gamely performing through a routine mocking Louisiana and Arkansas, stereotypes all, then rolling professionally into a seamless sugared pill for offended retards, folding in a few more hacky jabs at the Deep South (that ends in audience applause) and a 30 second soapboxing about offense culture (that’s also rewarded by an impromptu whoop from the supportive crowd). Easily offended people are like children, apparently. Presumably, they’d be the precisely the type to look in wonderment through airplane windows. The f*cking c*nts.
Tom Segura is still a great comic. Obviously. To say his act wasn’t in the same league as Dave Chapelle’s is hardly big news, though there were some crossover themes and Tom maybe needs to hold himself to a higher standard. There are easy laughs in playing the curmudgeonly middle-aged f*ck-wit but it can’t be good for the soul, can it? 35 minutes into the special and the biggest cheer of the show came when Tom threw in a catchphrase from his podcast. In fact, the audience’s excitement at the start of Tom Segura’s special grew more and more tepid as the hour wore on. Laughter trickled rather than flowed. What a shame.
Was Tom berating the audience at 42–43 minute mark, for not being responsive to his latest boring bit (about blowing nine dicks) sincere annoyance or part of the show? I suspect the former.
Watching Tom plow on wasn’t much fun. By the time he got to the joke-free bit lambasting poor people and the superstitious, Tom was having to throw in exaggerated movements on stage like a prop comic, repeating an “aren’t Southerns f*cking stupid?” impression, complete with expectant pause to remind the audience to laugh. They scarcely did. It was pretty excruciating.
When all’s said and done, peel the comedy onion any way we like, this stuff it’s all subjective. I know my opinion may not be shared by others. If I’ve gone over Tom Segura’s Ball Hog Netflix comedy special in too much detail, my defense is simple. This review was written up straight after watching because the hour was so disappointing. Blah.
As someone who’s a Segura fan and long-time listener to Your Mom’s House podcast I had higher hopes for Ball Hog. It was so tedious I had to watch the last 15 minutes on x1.25 speed to get through to the end.
“Do you think Cosby still eats pudding?”
Tom’s closer was ‘advice’ to us (the audience) to manage our expectations (in life), wrapping up with five minutes on his teenage obsession with sixty-nine (the sex position). We got a bit of stool humping storytelling about when he eventually did a ‘sixty-nine’ and how it turned out to be a shitty, disappointing experience for everyone involved. Turns out Tom Segura’s finale was an apt metaphor for the comedy special as a whole. It was a little shitty and, I suspect, a disappointing experience for everyone involved; performer included.
Bottom line, analysis aside, expectations notwithstanding, getting through this Tom Segura special was difficult. Biggest cheer from me was reaching the end credits, which I was determined to do so Tom got the Netflix algorithm credit from me viewing the complete show. Because I’m a fan, like I say.
“Ball Hog” was boring. I didn’t laugh. It wasn’t funny. This was a poor comedy special.