You could forgive Rob Schneider for running out of killer bits by this point in his career.
The comedian starred on “Saturday Night Live” from 1990-94, appeared in dozens of movies and has been touring on and off for decades.
Even the best stand-ups (cough, cough Jim Gaffigan) struggle to match their glory days.
Except Schneider isn’t afraid to tackle subjects most comedians won’t go near.
- COVID-19 overreach
- Trans issues
- President Joe Biden
- Woke gone wild
That gives Schneider enough raw material for what might be his best set in years.
FOX Nation’s “Rob Schneider: Woke Up in America” isn’t overflowing with “clapter” or gags placating his new, right-leaning admirers. He knows lectures are best left to TED talks.
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He’s a comedian, and at this point as seasoned as any of his peers. It means “Woke Up in America,” coming in at a super-sized hour and 20 minutes, might be the best stand-up special of 2023.
Taped at Florida’s Tampa Theatre, “Woke” finds Schneider bouncing between Heartland-friendly topics (with plenty of R-rated seasoning) and traditional stand-up. He blends personal anecdotes, including a killer extended bit about working with a future president, with relatable tales of the male-female divide.
He also wades into “problematic” cultural waters, blasting those who can’t define what a woman is and misogynistically dub them “chest feeders.”
“Everybody knows what a woman is. A woman is someone who gets mad at you for something you did three years ago,” he cracks.
Yes, “Woke Up in America” would struggle to land a slot on Netflix or other mainstream streaming platforms, to their collective shame.
Schneider is at the top of his game here, marshaling his comic resources including a slightly huskier voice and body language that spices up even the mildest bits.
Schneider finds the funny in pandemic mania, diversity hiring practices and, in an extended bit, vasectomies. He also relentlessly tackles trans issues, matching what Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais have done in recent times.
Like today’s Democrats, Stalin and Goebbels supported Free Speech as well…
As long as what you said agreed with them! https://t.co/BqDBna8tej
— Rob Schneider (@RobSchneider) June 17, 2023
Off-stage, Schneider shreds attempts to silence ordinary Americans on social media, and he flirts with the issue on stage. He mimics a traditional-minded professional who fears saying the “wrong” thing on social media.
“‘I never said men can’t have babies … I like my tech job,'” he says in a quavering voice.
Schneider’s path crossed future President Donald Trump a few times, and he weaves those moments together into a fresh take on the outsized leader. Yes, we can laugh at Trump jokes if they’re expertly crafted and rooted in reality.
What about the current Commander in Chief?
“If Biden was a dog you’d put him down,” he says, saying no more on the subject.
Save the date! You can stream #WokeUpinAmerica this Sunday! Sit back, relax, and enjoy @RobSchneider ‘s comedic brilliance from the comfort of your own couch. Don’t miss out on the laughter! pic.twitter.com/gz57IEno1f
— Fox Nation (@foxnation) June 16, 2023
Had Schneider stuck to traditional stand-up subjects, “Woke Up in America” would have been good but lacking in satirical bite. Instead, he weaves in forbidden subjects in ways that shouldn’t offend most viewers.
Some will still lunge for the “stop” button on their Roku remotes, of course.
Like Jim Breuer, Schneider can’t ignore the insanity surrounding COVID-19, particularly the government’s imbalanced reaction to it.
“This guy’s parachute didn’t open, and he died of COVID,” he cracks, noting how the lines between “died from COVID” and “died with COVID” blurred beyond recognition. Later, he mocked how gyms and churches had to shutter their doors but Target remained wide open.
That’s speaking truth to power, something Team Late-Night couldn’t manage.
Cultural observers will be fascinated by much of “Woke Up in America.”
“I’m a traditional liberal, which makes me a right-wing fascist,” the comic says at one point. He later praises the country’s progress on gay rights, including gay marriage, to a hearty reaction from the packed theater.
Gay pride month, he adds with an impish grin, feels a “little pushy.”
Wait? Isn’t this a White Supremacist rally, given all the Trump-friendly moments and attacks on modern Democrats?
Not even close.
“Woke Up in America” shows how much we’ve evolved as a nation while mocking how we’re regressing at breakneck speed.