Dan Levy clearly has done his work. He comes out and declares, “I be getting ready for this,” on his new special, Lion, and it shows. His high energy storytelling makes his everyday life seem engaging and entertaining. He is the family man persona for thirty somethings, and he fully utilizes his wife and kids to generate wit.
Levy sets up the special by creating a self deprecating image of himself. He describes himself as a being a beagle, “likable, but will sit for cheese.” He quips about roaring for his physical trainer who encourages him to be a lion. Levy paints himself as inadequate. He pees sitting down and loves shopping on Amazon. His pleasure comes from real estate apps. Throughout the special, the comedian plays low status to his wife and kids, and it takes out the sting when he riffs on his family.
As a married comedian, he definitely has plenty of material about his wife. What’s different and entertaining is Levy describes his wife as “a husband from the ‘50s.” He switches up the gender norms giving his wife the credit as the wiser, more assertive partner. She is the one paying the bills and owns a tool belt. He generates laughs from being submissive and a failing husband. He is setting up a platform so when he does take jabs at his wife such as likening her to a raccoon, the joke does not feel mean spirited. She becomes a character to relate to and laugh about.
His kids are used in a similar fashion. Levy compares parenting to the life of a homicide detective. It is exhausting and intense. He has nightmares from watching Frozen on repeat. The concept that parenting is painful is not new, but being able to update it with pop culture references makes it seem fresh. Like his wife, the kids get roasted. His son is likened to a toddler Matthew McConaughey who hangs out naked and speaks with a Southern accent. He hopes to one day to get to know his daughter. “She is chill,” Levy jokes, implying she is a quiet kid. His delivery is what really sells the jokes.
Through the special, the stand-up is using physicality and rhythm to pump out the punches. In a bit about getting mugged, he interjects the dialogue between himself and the mugger, “Help me-Sorry sorry sorry-Help me.” He is calling for help; the mugger is a meth head apologizing. The image of two is funny, and adding the speech from the scenario enriches the story. It also creates a musical sense to it. Levy tells a story that audience wants to listen to. The strongest part of his jokes are when the energy picks up from this, and he is walking around the stage wound up. The excitement is captivating to watch.
While Levy maybe the losing weak guy, his jokes are solid. The family man’s observations and delivery make Lion a pleasurable viewing experience.
Be sure to watch Dan Levy: Lion premiering on Seeso November 17th.