Most comedians’ grandparents probably die long before their grandkid sees success (comedy’s a marathon), but not Andrew Santino’s grandma. She’s gotten to see her grandson tape a half-hour for Comedy Central, release a comedy album (Say No More), and star in Showtime’s new series I’m Dying Up Here — and, when Showtime asked him to tape his first hour special Home Field Advantage, she was there to introduce him on the stage of the Vic Theatre in his hometown of Chicago. It was a fitting moment for a special that’s teeming with childhood nostalgia.
Santino opens and closes Home Field Advantage with a slightly manic, over-enthusiastic tour of Chicago. He’s clearly excited to be home, and when he takes the stage the crowd is clearly excited to see him. Unfortunately, the audience seems to save the bulk of its enthusiasm for the city itself, clamming up occasionally as Santino ventures out into other topics. He handles it well, though, owning the stage through material that doesn’t always get the reaction it deserves.
With his red hair and pragmatic, sometimes politically incorrect take on the world, Santino gives off some Bill Burr-esque vibes, chief of which being his ability to calmly tread through sensitive territory. He dishes on the Los Angeles homeless population (spoiler alert: he’s not a fan), gender-neutral bathrooms, why no one should be pooping at a bar, why black people always liked him, and a host of other topics. Most importantly, Santino takes down Macklemore for ruining hip-hop, and that alone is worth the Showtime subscription fee.
While not a confessional or especially personal comedian, Santino does give us some glimpses into his life. He talks about his childhood struggles with acne, being a ginger, how his Irish Catholic guilt affected his teenage masturbation habits, and doing white people sh*t as a newlywed. It’s in these stories that he best displays his skills as a performer. His elastic voice and talent for accents make for colorful stories, and his deft, controlled physicality completes the picture.
Home Field Advantage is a fun hour of stand-up from a talented young comic. Santino is confident, straightforward, and ridiculously likeable. His grandmother should be proud.