Theo Von No Offense
Published Jun 09, 2016Exclaim! is reviewing every standup comedy special currently available on Netflix Canada, including this one. You can find a complete list of reviews so far here.
Three-quarters of the way through No Offense, after a marginally funny joke about miscarriage gets the requisite moan and gasp from the crowd, Theo Von remarks to his audience, "They're just jokes, people. They can't all be funny." Therein lies the biggest problem with No Offense: semi-shocking statements and language are given equal footing with well-constructed jokes. This is the equivalent of spending an hour listening to that uncle we all try to ignore who says things like, "I'm not
Smart, genuinely funny bits where Von delves into his own experiences growing up and exploring the possibility of his own homosexuality sit next to vaguely homophobic jokes about men that are "too gay." Simply delving into one's own experiences with something like homosexuality does not absolve someone of their thoughtless, unfunny jokes. It's a tactic that Von uses a few times throughout the hour.
A large portion of No Offense is dedicated to tearing apart women for their physical appearance. It's tasteless, tone-deaf and genuinely mean without being funny. He cushions each comment with remarks about his own appearance, but never with the ferocity he attacks the female inhabitants of his stories. One time he even sleeps with the ugly girl! That's the one the ends with the mediocre miscarriage joke. So funny.
Von's distaste for men doing yoga and women doing crossfit is strong, staggering and baffling. He seems to really hate any activity that may suggest anything outside of established gender norms. His advice to fit women looking for a male companion is to, "Put down the barbells, pick up some flowers, look lost. You'll have a boyfriend in five minutes."
There are a couple of extended bits here that manage to get a little deeper and get some genuine laughs. Von's stories about growing up with an elderly father who'd suffered a stroke manage a balance of darkness and humour. But there's not enough of those bits here to rise above the tone-deaf, unfunny patter that surrounds them. Von's big closer consists of him running down a list of people he implores to "Get the fuck out." The list includes laugh-worthy groups like those who "wear sunglasses while working out at the gym" and those who "wear camouflage and aren't in the army or forest," but quickly gives way to "Asians that can't drive" and simply, "Persian people." That simple joke that closes the show is derailed by the lust for low-hanging meanness and is indicative of what came before.