There’s a game I sometimes play, wherein I imagine which living stand-up comics I would invite to dinner in a sort-of who’s who of potluck hilarity. I won’t divulge the entire list, but suffice it say I want the storytellers, the ones who weave a yarn so preposterously true that it leaves everyone doubled over in laughter and ready to dish their own anecdote over my impeccably prepared meal.
Tom Segura tops that list. He’s the comic you want at a dinner party.
Segura won’t necessarily be the most outspoken guest, but the way he observes human behavior, stores it away in his brain where it can stew into something entirely other, and then recounts that experience promises to be a surefire hit for any such occasion.
That much comes across in his newest and second Netflix Special, Tom Segura: Mostly Stories, which is exactly what it sounds like: entertaining tales, both long and short.
Like many a working comic out there, Segura cleverly oscillates between humorous observations that blend personal experience with objective reality, and shorter jokes that tackle quick, funny topics like how to please a man, pulling out during sex and dreaming about the day he’ll discuss his eventual weight loss. More than the average comic, though, Segura has a natural and capable storytelling ability, one that lifts his narratives out of average anecdote fare and plants them firmly in hilarious ground. With a delivery that exudes an aggrieved calmness, Segura stands center stage rather than pacing and building a loud energy. That lends his stand-up a nuanced humor filled with carefully crafted timing and reactions.
Shot in Seattle, Washington, Tom Segura: Mostly Stories deals largely in the foibles bound up in modern day communication. Whether it’s the shouting match that erupts when a couple brings their baby to a movie theater, his father starting a rumor about Tommy Lee Jones being gay or Segura’s disdain for being so conversation-poor that he relies on weather chit chat, he pays attention to the pitfalls surrounding human connections.
Where other comics build in massive reactions to capture audiences, Segura is at his best when he keeps things in the dumbfounded range. He often recounts conversations he has with other people—turning his head from side to side to distinguish between himself and the other person—but chooses to take a backseat in his telling. Instead of shining the spotlight on himself and his reactions, he makes his point strictly his own when he builds in simple, almost awe-stricken reactions to the dumb ass shit people say. With a low-key “What?” spoken as if he had asked “Excuse me?” Segura builds in hyperbole in wholly unexpected and subtle ways.
Ending with the best story of the bunch—and what a bouquet it is—Segura regales viewers with the time he met Mike Tyson on a plane and couldn’t quite shake him. The lengthy tale serves to punctuate a special capturing Segura at his storytelling best.
Amanda Wicks is a New Orleans-based freelance writer specializing in comedy and music. Follow her on Twitter @aawicks.