‘Hannah Berner: We Ride At Dawn’ Review: Abortion, And Gun Violence Make For An Hour Of Good Comedy

Halfway into her latest Netflix special, titled We Ride at Dawn, comedian Hannah Berner throws a question to a couple in her audience: a bald man and a young woman. She wants to know how the two met. The woman screams that the bald man happens to be her father (and definitely not her partner or spouse, which she doesn’t need to mention, obviously). Berner, and the entire audience, erupts in laughter. Now, I know these comedy specials are carefully scripted and well thought-out. So this whole thing might not have been organic. But even then, this is the funniest joke of the whole set, and Berner deserves credit for that, as she herself has written and directed the set. If this was an impromptu thing, then she deserves ten times more credit, not to mention. 

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I’m going to go a little personal here. The Netflix comedy space is still primarily occupied by male comedians in their late forties and early fifties. I’m not at all trying to demean anyone in particular, but more often than not, I find their sets to be painfully boring, unfunny as hell, and downright offensive. Yeah, I do believe a comedian should have the freedom to do and say anything on the stage, but I also have the right to my opinion, especially when I don’t get to laugh. The reason I’m bringing it up here is because Berner happens to be closer to my age, and I feel more at home with her set. I should clarify that I’m not out to push any agenda here, so you don’t need to be salty about it. My job is to assess Hannah Berner: We Ride at Dawn, and I’m just trying to give you some context before getting into it. 

Let us now get into the big question: how is the comedy set? Well, this is the first time I am watching Hannah Berner perform, and I would say the whole thing is fairly decent. I chuckled quite a bit and laughed genuinely hard at some of her jokes. But then I also felt some of her bits didn’t land, like the one about her turning thirty years old, early in the act. Berner going on and on about how most of the popular Disney princes are pretty much douchebags (if you think about it from another perspective) initially seems novel, until it loses steam and starts boring you. She does admit that Captain Hook is a turn-on and Aladdin is a cutie, which, in my opinion, saves the whole thing. 

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Why the title, though? Berner doesn’t forget to explain that to you. She starts talking about very relevant (and sensitive) things like abortion and gun violence. The topic of abortion is not particularly uncommon when it comes to the American comedy scene, but it is often used in a rather offensive manner, especially by middle-aged, anti-abortion sentimentalists. Again, I am not targeting anyone, but Berner’s talk on abortion might bother a lot of people. In my book, that is a win. Anyway, Berner brings gun violence into the equation, and even though you don’t see it coming, she seamlessly conjoins the two. Berner’s conclusion that guns shouldn’t be given to average American man is another thing that can make a lot of people angry. She even says that those guns should be handed over to the women. The title We Ride at Dawn is a war cry, but it is coming from the females, with the guns. 

While some of her jokes fall flat and fail to yield a laugh, Berner is on her absolute A-game when it comes to interaction with the audience. Did she purposefully have a young woman named Isis there? I don’t know, but having Isis in the audience does offer endless comedic possibilities, and Berner fully explores all of that. What if you find someone named Isis on dating sites? Or what if someone tells you that Isis is coming? It further helps that the girl, Isis, turns out to be sporting enough to go along with it. She’s not the only one in the audience who made her way into the narrative. There’s Kevin with a beard (that gets appreciation from the comedian herself), who has no shame in admitting that he took a performance-enhancing pill on the day of his wedding. What’s the joke here? He drank some beers afterwards and passed out, resulting in a zero-action wedding night with a very hard, poking thing, if you know what I mean. Berner’s talent for getting instant jokes out of the audience is visible here, but what’s even more impressive is how she’s amplifying it as a performer. Berner does have her own material too. Her demand for realistic sex in movies is not only justified; she goes on to provide an explanation behind it, which is downright hilarious. Berner’s skill at physical comedy gives her an added advantage here.

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While Berner’s set is filled with so many relevant topics, she does focus on the act of sex and the culture around it. She appears to be extremely confident about delivering it to the audience. She doesn’t also hesitate going personal and talking about her marriage with the much older Des Bishop (also a famous comedian, although she never mentions the name) and even getting some good jokes out of the whole thing. And from how she talks, tells her stories, and doesn’t hold back from getting personal, it can be said that Berner is a force to be reckoned with.


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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