‘Neal Brennan: Crazy Good’ Review: A New Netflix Special, Stays Very True To Its Name

I’m not sure if there’s a rulebook regarding how to watch a stand-up, but the first rule should always be: don’t go into it with any kind of presumption. When I read the description of the latest Neal Brennan comedy special on Netflix, titled Crazy Good, I didn’t expect it to be that hilarious. What I mean here is that I couldn’t imagine a stand-up that focuses on mental health, cryptocurrency, and the psychopathic tendencies of celebrities turning out to be “haha funny”—that too without being problematic. But Brennan has clearly managed to achieve that here. In Crazy Good, Brennan does get into everything that’s mentioned in the description provided by Netflix, and while he acknowledges the seriousness of so many of these matters, he also succeeds at getting some genuine laughter out of it. And it’s not an easy thing to do, by any means, especially if you consider that Brennan has a history of mental illness of his own. In many of his previous stand-ups, he has extensively spoken about that. But at the very beginning of Crazy Good, Brennan surprises everyone with a disclaimer that he is actually doing pretty well now, which is a clear indication of this standup not being like his other ones!

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And boy, was he right! Crazy Good is indeed a very different, and to an extent surprising, stand-up from someone like Neal Brennan. From the hilariously meta opening joke of seeking help from AI for an opening joke to the very last one regarding female orgasm, Brennan keeps hitting it out of the park. The number of topics he covers in the middle is quite staggering!

One of the very praiseworthy things about Crazy Good is Brennan’s ability to establish a connection between two back-to-back jokes. This obviously brings harmony to the viewing experience, despite the flurry of content. Let’s take the crypto joke, for example. Brennan makes it loud and clear that he’s not into cryptocurrency or investing in it. Then he brings up how it’s mostly men investing in it, all thanks to other men posting about it on social media. Brennan follows that up by doing a genuinely funny and quite accurate comparison between social media for men and women. It’s obviously generic and even stereotypical, but Brennan packs enough punch in that joke that you can’t help but laugh out loud.

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Just a week ago, Netflix wowed us with Demetri Martin’s standup Demetri Deconstructed. You should definitely check that out, but the reason I’m bringing it up here is on account of its innovativeness. Brennan might not be able to match that one, but with his religious commercial bits, he actually comes pretty close. It’s hard for me to pick one single bit that can be deemed the funniest in Crazy Good, but the religious jokes arc should be right on top. Instead of churning out the same outdated jokes, which always include terms like “allahuakbar” like most other comedians, Brennan speaks about his ingenious ideas about one religion doing a commercial dissing another religion. And if you’re a part of the Netflix audience, then you get to see the dramatizations of Brennan’s idea, like a real commercial, in a much similar manner to Martin’s standup from last week. While all the religious (or anti-religious) commercials are genuinely funny, the clincher in this segment has to be the Catholic commercial (against Islam), where they are so proud of the inclusion of alcohol and ask everyone to bring their children. That’s an obvious dig at the very disturbing practice of pedophilia by the priests of many esteemed churches. Speaking of pedophilia, in another segment that comes much later, Brennan doesn’t forget to mention Woody Allen as well.

In another segment of Crazy Good, Brennan uses the Dalai Lama reference (of being a pedophile) and sheds light on how many eminent religious and political figures constantly fall out of grace and how common people choose to live in denial. Brennan doesn’t hesitate to go further dark by stating that America might see a presidency tussle between an ailing Biden and a rapist who goes by the name Donald Trump. Brennan also dares to do a rape joke bit, and thankfully it’s not the cringe-inducing one sports team “assaulting” another team. Many times in the startup, Brennan explicitly mentions how difficult it is to be politically correct in this world, but he never once crosses the threshold of being problematic. For example, he is quite candid about not caring about transgender people, a statement that might see him labeled as transphobic. But Brennan is smart enough to clarify that he believes in everyone having the same rights, no matter who they are.

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The main highlight of Crazy Good happens to be the subject of mental health and how mainstream it has become, but instead of talking about himself or his journey, Brennan chooses to take things in a whole other direction. Through many examples and references, he goes on to prove that madness is a necessity if one truly wants to achieve greatness. Brennan’s argument is strongly supported by examples such as Michael Jordan’s obsession, Michael Phelps’ drug problem, and many female gymnasts choosing the path of struggle. It gets funnier when, to solidify his point, Brennan intentionally brings in names like Oscar Pistorius, Tiger Woods, and Lance Armstrong—all of whom are involved in questionable things like murdering fiances, sex scandals, and doping, in case you are wondering about context. Brennan doesn’t stop at using sportspersons for reference only; he is bold enough to name people from every possible field, and those names happen to be of people like Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Alfa Edison, and The Wright Brothers. Not to mention, he doesn’t spare his own kind, as he goes on to name Taylor Tomlinson, John Mulaney, and, of course, himself. There’s every possibility of some of it being cooked by Brennan himself, but it all makes a lot of sense, given how constructively the comedian puts it out for you. 

In a stand-up that goes literally everywhere, including poking fun at “documentary culture,” which is clearly the doing of Netflix, closing things off with sex compliments and talking about female orgasm might feel like a safe choice for Brennan, but it does pay off. Especially the last joke where Brennan subtly targets men who fumble during intimacy, right after hearing the woman might have an orgasm, is pure gold. I’m sure a lot of men are actually going to find Brennan’s advice pretty useful in life, if you know what I mean!

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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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