Iliza Shlesinger battles political correctness and social conventions on ‘War Paint’ (review)
In the wake of the glass ceiling of comedy, it’s easy for the subject of feminism to arise in the discussion of female comics. It’s a dead horse beaten time and time again, albeit it a dead horse obstructing the middle of the road for many. However, Iliza Shlesinger doesn’t care if you think she’s a feminist one way or another. She only cares that she makes you laugh. She’s not socially conscious, she makes sweeping and unflattering generalizations about her female friends, and she paints an unsettling commentary on dating for women (see, “if you order and consume a lobster, you have to touch your date’s wiener”). When visiting Shlesinger’s remarkably strong, new release, War Paint, it is vital to check our political correctness at the door; you won’t need it with laughs like this.
The Last Comic Standing winner’s particular brand of observational comedy straddles the line of alternative and mainstream. She masterfully admits to idiosyncrasies a la Maria Bamford that may cause a mainstream audience to squirm, while utilizing an “Am I right ladies?” voice that is far removed from the modern alt comic tone. She is herself, unapologetically. She’s the kind of comedian who will host a reality dating show; but she will also bring her adorable dog on stage to commit to a bit about an infamous ASPCA commercial while advocating animal adoption. Her ability in vocal work allows her to create characters we know and identify with, but also gives her an edge that makes it hard to pigeon hole her into the world of conventional stand-up.
Shlesinger’s new special fills a void that has become ever present in recent years of comedy. A comedian comfortable with playing in and out of stereotypes, she is honest and comfortable with her honesty. She keeps listeners on their toes with biting remarks about women with “no solutions, just more problems,” and reminding men that their “boner is not a medical condition.” She’s also willing to draw attention to societal problems without stating them explicitly, or perhaps even consciously addressing such issues. Body image, sexual deviancy, and gender roles all mesh together through reflections that are far more self-aware than they are self-degrading. It is refreshing, and sets a new standard for comedians, disregarding gender entirely. Most importantly to War Paint, though, Shlesinger is there to have fun. She makes no compromises, holds nothing back, and cares very little about what you think about her act.
War Paint is now available at your favorite digital retailer and streaming on Netflix.