T.J. Miller does not give a f*ck. Not one. Not even a f*ck of the flying variety. Zero. F*cks. It’s a theme that runs through his new HBO hour special, Meticulously Ridiculous, and he makes it clear from the start, spastically grabbing a bottle of water and “accidentally” drenching himself. That’s how he begins, with water dripping from his signature curls, down his gray suit and black untucked dress shirt, all the way to his clown-like red tennis shoes. He seems to hardly notice, plunging head first into an hour of absurdist humor that stands in stark contrast to the pointed political and deeply personal humor currently in vogue within the stand-up community.
Miller’s steadfast commitment to absurdist comedy might not be everyone’s cup of tea (i.e. this clip from his recent appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where he reads a review from an Iowan who believed that Miller actually spent $73,000 on carnival games last year), but he doesn’t care. Miller is a nihilist, so why would he? If his own opinion is meaningless, why would he care about yours? Miller’s humor is a reflection of his belief that life is inherently absurd and our existence fundamentally tragic. In fact, in the aforementioned Late Show clip, Miller says: “Comedy is the opiate that I offer, as a drug dealer, to you.” Savvy fans of the comedian will find he’s now dealing something more refined than his previous special, 2011’s No Real Reason.
Meticulously Ridiculous does look at serious topics, but it always returns to silliness. Miller explores the nature of time, our fear of death, and even delves into the relative nature of morality. But he balances these more philosophical segments with lighthearted topics, like why alcohol is a better friend than weed, and a particularly inspired George Washington Carver bit — and to top it off, the tale of Gleep Glarp the Gobble-Snarf (the spelling and hyphenation of this name are an educated guess – apologies to Gleep for any inaccuracies). Even at his most personal moment — describing his experience being diagnosed with a life threatening condition — he manages to spiral into the nonsensical. He does all this while intermittently reminding us, with a long list of reasons why, that he does not give a f*ck.
The special is also true to its title, carefully weaving in the seemingly extemporaneous with the scripted, making it difficult at times to tell what is planned and what is improvised. For instance, early on, Miller gets into a crowd work bit, and appears to go off on a tangent about a man he says looks “like a cool teacher.” Later he makes a small call back within his prepared marijuana material to a throwaway joke from the cool teacher riff, leaving the audience to decide if that detail was planned or if he’s just that quick witted. These little callbacks peppered throughout help bring a sense of complexity and depth to the hour.
T.J. Miller has come a long way since No Real Reason. From Silicon Valley to The Gorburger Show to Office Christmas Party to The Emoji Movie, Miller is everywhere these days. But his fame has not hindered his stand-up, which remains delightfully weird, fun, and thoughtful. Meticulously Ridiculous has something for every type of comedy fan and only raises expectations for what T.J. Miller will bring us next.
Meticulously Ridiculous is now available on HBOGo.