‘Dave Attell: Hot Cross Buns’ Review: A Netflix Comedy Special, Is Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen Before

Let us start by talking about the ending. In his new Netflix special, titled Hot Cross Buns, comedian Dave Attell starts to play the recorder. No, it’s not what you think; the recorder happens to be a musical instrument that looks a lot like a flute. From my scant knowledge of music, I can tell that you can play a recorder if you are good with the flute. Anyway, Attell then insists on the audience looking under their seats, and voila, everybody finds a recorder! Well, a few people find the most obvious sex toys, a practical joke played by Attell, which suits the erotic nature of the comedy special. Attell playfully apologizes, then he comes to the main part. He urges everyone to play Hot Cross Buns with him. For the uninitiated, it happens to be a very popular nursery rhyme tune—yeah, I was not aware as well; I had to Google it. Attell not only asks his audience to play it with him, he’s gracious enough to display the notations of the song on the stage so that everyone who understands can follow. It’s absolute chaos when Attell and everyone start to play their recorders, but it’s also harmonious and even wholesome, to some extent. This is definitely something that you don’t get to see on a comedy set, and it clearly makes Dave Attell: Hot Cross Buns one of a kind.

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But the man doesn’t stop there. The screen goes black (not for the live audience, obviously), and we get the message that things are not over yet. The reason behind that is hilarious: Attell’s forty-minute comedy special is quite short in length compared to the usual one-hour stand-ups. And he still has two and a half minutes to go, meaning he still owes Netflix a tiny bit of content; otherwise, he wouldn’t get his payment (yeah, as if!). So he does come up with more content, and again, it is something very unique and certainly not something you get to see in a stand-up show. In the final moments of Hot Cross Buns,  Attell takes things outside of the stage. Standing beside a boat yard, he plays Hot Cross Buns with his recorder to a group of seals. This happens to be a really large group of seals, if you’re wondering. And they seem to enjoy the tune. Attell finishes things off with a happy birthday, although in the very last scene we see him standing on a sidewalk and getting hit by a bicycle out of nowhere. 

Now the last bit is a call-back to the joke he told earlier, which, in my opinion, was one of his funniest ones. It’s just a story of him walking on a sidewalk and getting hit by a bicycle, implying even a sidewalk is not safe for walking in this world—a certain Salman Khan would agree for sure, just saying. My apologies for that reference, but here’s the thing: Attell’s stand-up is filled with references that you probably wouldn’t get—other than the genuinely beautiful final act, of course. And I don’t mean to offend you or insult you by saying that. Even I had to spend a considerable amount of time on the internet after watching Hot Cross Buns.

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The biggest thing about Netflix comedy specials is their accessibility; anyone in the world can see them from anywhere. That’s why the humor is usually universal. It might not match up to your taste, but you still wouldn’t have an issue in terms of getting the joke. But that’s not the case with Hot Cross Buns. That’s probably because Attell has his own brand of humor, and I don’t think Netflix would dare tell him to do things their way. For a man of Attell’s stature, I do believe it’s best to let him do whatever he wants, however he wants, which is exactly what happens here.

If you do get the jokes, Attell manages to hit the bullseye with most of them. He jokes about the lack of snacks in Milwaukee – implying a faux justification of the actions of a certain Jeffrey Dahmer. Then he moves on to trail mix being the most boring snack in the world and soon moves to an adult joke involving Subway. I do believe that by describing his relationship with his own mother, which involves opening an Onlyfans account for her and taking “tasteful” pictures, Attell attempted to take a dig at the fetishization of the Oedipus complex. He does bring up the topic of loneliness while talking about his mother, though, which helps you to look at things from another perspective. In fact, the way Attell talks about being lonely at an old age is rather heartbreaking.

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It is understandable that Attell considers himself a man of the old world, at the age of fifty-nine. So it is very obvious for him to come up with a bit where he shares the experience of being intimate with an older woman, and it is not quite like riding a horse—like how young people do. As I’ve mentioned earlier, Hot Cross Buns is very erotic by nature; you get to hear a lot about adult films, but the jokes are rather unusual, and I dare say this, at times unfunny.

A comedian’s attitude on stage can impact a lot of things, and Attell’s casually savage vibe fits just about perfectly with the content. It is one of the reasons that, despite being downright tragic and horrific, his summer camp and the bear joke are also the funniest of the whole lot. And yes, this one goes exactly as many of you would imagine: Attell talks about the two biggest fears a boy can face at a summer camp: the first is a wild bear, and the second is their instructor doing unspeakable things to them. He’s obviously talking about child abuse here, a despicable thing that is unfortunately quite common in America and all over the world. In many ways, Dave Attell’s Hot Cross Buns comes off as a reflection of society from a specific kind of perspective. I can’t say I fully enjoyed it, but it is quite something for sure—I’ve got to give it to that.

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Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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