A performer naming their special Showman is a bold move. The audience will automatically expect circus-level entertainment and you are pressured to deliver on that promise. While there are no songs, dance numbers, or elephants (sorry to disappoint), Michael McIntyre does everything in his power to live up to the title of his new special.
Michael McIntyre: Showman is full of good old-fashioned observational humor that sets itself apart from the rest of the pack because of McIntyre’s magnetic charisma. If you are going to tell stories from a basic stage setting consisting of only a red curtain and still call your special Showman, you need to be a larger-than-life storyteller. To pull this off, McIntyre draws the audience in with anticipation details in each of his stories to invoke suspense and imagination. Getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom is a nuisance we can all agree is annoying, but McIntyre turns it into an adventure. He has memorized all the creaks in his floorboards, an action he calls “stealth pissing,” in order to not wake up his wife when he has to relieve himself, to keep her from online shopping in the middle of the night.
McIntyre uses self-deprecation to kick off the show, which is a smart move considering he spends much of the performance poking fun at other people, running the gamut from his wife to a stranger he saw on TV who had been bitten by a shark. “He’s OK!” McIntyre assures us, which leads him to make fun of the swimmers’ interesting choice of words, saying that the shark “came out of nowhere” when in fact “this shark attack would not have happened if he hadn’t gotten in the water.” The way the story is set up to assure us that the man is fine and giving us all the details leading up to the punchline drive a joke like this away from the mean-spirited nature that it so easily could have had.
The show weaves in and out of jokes that poke fun at other people and himself. The special has a bit about the look of the Asian community and when it starts, you can’t help but whisper, “oh no,” under your breath because of how wrong it could go. Thankfully, the joke points at McIntyre himself and how he looks different than anybody else in his family instead of making fun of the physical appearance of others. This is his strength in this hour—turning the tables on himself.
Even more entertaining than McIntyre’s well-structured jokes are his animated mannerisms. I am convinced that if you mute the audio and only watch his act from a visual standpoint, his jumpy arm movements will still garner a handful of chuckles. If Michael McIntyre proves anything with this special, it’s that you don’t need a flashy production to be considered a showman. Sometimes being the greatest showman is the commitment you give to your audience.
Christian Becker is a writer and comedian based out of NJ. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheAmazingBeck.