Dan Soder, a child of the 80s and 90s, belongs to the millennial generation known for being told how special they are. His debut special, Not Special, seemingly separates himself from this notion, all the while proving his special may actually indeed be special. It was recorded at the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia and premieres Saturday May 21st on Comedy Central with the album version landing Tuesday, May 24th via Comedy Central Records. The SiriusXM personality’s originality is apparent through his juxtapositions throughout the hour long set.
Soder creates infectious bursts by taking the audience down one road and then taking a sharp one-eighty without notice. The first juicy moment, “Smoking is Cool,” begins with how cool a ninety year old looks with a cigarette in his mouth, “with that look on his face, ‘yeah, I won,'” and ends the bit with how smoking attracts the insane. Soder’s joke structure is on point. Each track resonates nicely as it’s own sound bite; each has it’s own set-up and clear punch. However, together, they flow to create a vivid portrait of a single thirtysomething New Yorker.
The comedian is able to land on a bit about his Nana and transition nicely into the the next track about being from Colorado and the legalization of weed. He doesn’t miss a beat and keeps the audience laughing for the entire set. The callbacks are so fitting that if you miss the joke first time, it delicately creeps back in with little need for a set up. Such as when he brings up his grandma, he also makes mention of gin rummy. Later on, he slips gin rummy in again when speaking about old people. A callback like this draws its strength from the simple association of an old card game with the elderly.
Soder definitely speaks from a specific generation, one who remembers time before the Digital Age. As Soder states, “If you’re a man that grew up with the internet, I can’t trust you as a man…” He contextualizes this point of view eloquently. He weighs the choice of riding a yellow taxi versus Uber, and he quips on two year olds operating iPads. A time without Tinder really was not that long ago, and all these advances have changed everything from how single mothers find dates to appreciating a-holes in real life.
Older millennials and previous generations alike will appreciate the insights. Anyone who was ever told they were special or have something to offer this world world will get it. This is an album that recognizes the changes in society from the last 30 years, and it crafts real humor from the sharp observations. Soder’s special fulfills his purpose and makes us laugh despite what any YouTube commenter may think.
Be sure to watch Dan Soder Not Special on Comedy Central May 21st at 11pm and do yourself a favor and pick up the album as well.