Steve Rannazzisi has named his latest stand-up special Manchild, but perhaps a better title would have been Manchild, Reformed. From explaining the intricacies of marital life to addressing the trials and tribulations of raising young children, Rannazzisi positions himself as an individual who has very much embraced the straight-and-narrow path (for the most part), without losing his comedic edge. The comedy that he does mines from this point-of-view, and while predictable at times, it works nevertheless because of the specific detail that he offers up in his spin on the familiar material.
The League star incorporates his familial material fairly early. After relaying an amusing anecdote about the time he ingested a particularly potent pot brownie prior to boarding a plane (apparently, Katy Perry’s “Firework” suddenly became the greatest song of all time), Rannazzisi instantly veers into a very detailed breakdown of the hassles inherent in flying with his children—a task that includes lugging multiple bags, strollers and car seats through the airport while enduring judgmental looks from fellow fliers. By juxtaposing these two bits upfront, the comedian effectively highlights two very different roles in life—goofy pot smoker and put-upon family man, thus demonstrating that the two sides needn’t be mutually exclusive.
Even when talking about his family, Rannazzisi hardly uses kid gloves, often getting down to the nitty-gritty details. In one of the special’s most effective bits, he demystifies the supposed “miracle of childbirth” by taking the audience through the delivery of his first child and his wife’s 17-hour labor. He specifically harps on how numerous doctors would rotate in and out to inspect and reach into her vagina, all the while he stood by, unshaken, having inevitably grown immune to the proceedings. Also, like Louis C.K., Rannazzisi can demonstrate a genuine love for his children while simultaneously framing them as occasionally monstrous creatures that defecate on the floor when they’re upset or, in another good bit, perform an elaborate dance routine while buck naked.
Amidst all of the comedian’s family-based material, it’s ironic then that perhaps the special’s highlight comes when he takes a detour to explain how he ended up meeting up with his current New York-based drug dealer. The story begins with Rannazzisi attempting to order a pizza while high and involves him then engaging in a passive aggressive battle of words with his wife before encountering perhaps the worst delivery boy of all time.
Contrary to its title, Rannazzisi’s Manchild finds the comedian as a seasoned and mature act who has found the voice to service his stage persona. While not every bit generates a big laugh, Rannazzisi’s affability and sharp storytelling chops will make you wish you could spend a bit more time in his presence.