Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Shane Gillis: Beautiful Dogs’ On Netflix, Where A Once Cancelled Comedian Proves His Bark Is Worse Than His Bite (2024)

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Shane Gillis: Beautiful Dogs

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Add Shane Gillis to the list of NYC-based stand-up comedians who had to prove their worth first on YouTube before Netflix came calling to cash in on their perceived popularity. Will Gillis rise to the occasion of being pushed by the world’s largest streaming platform?

SHANE GILLIS: BEAUTIFUL DOGS: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

The Gist: Four years ago this month, Shane Gillis entered the nation’s zeitgeist in a most unusual way, getting hired and un-hired by Saturday Night Live within a matter of days.

Two years ago this week, Gillis released his first stand-up special on YouTube, the 48-minute Shane Gillis: Live In Austin, which has racked up more than 14 million views. Since then, he’s only gotten more popular, showing up as a frequent guest on Joe Rogan’s podcast and appearing in social media videos with all sorts of athletes and celebrities. No wonder he’s now on Netflix for his second special, a 53-minute set produced by All Things Comedy (the production company founded by Bill Burr and Al Madrigal).

What Comedy Specials Will It Remind You Of?:As Bill Burr is one of the executive producers here, it’s easy to think of Gillis as a kinder, softer Burr. Wanting to tease and test his audience, but always striving to maintain his likability.

Memorable Jokes: Of all of the places Gillis has toured globally in recent years, Australia has captured his imagination the most, as he demonstrates with a number of bits about Australian culture, and a few dalliances with the Down Under accent, ending with him imagining an Aussie office worker in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Which even surprises Gillis by earning an applause break as he sips from his cup afterward.

We learn that Gillis has a girlfriend who has moved in with him, and that’s almost got him as frazzled as the fact that her ex-boyfriend was a Navy SEAL. He’s worried he won’t measure up in bed, so to speak, but as he jokes, nobody should be trying to emulate the sexual activities they see in p*rn. “Belly to belly is pretty good.”

Gillis also devotes a long chunk to his 2020 COVID-restricted visit to Mount Vernon and the George Washington Museum, where he found himself alone on a tour where all the employees remained in character, stuck in the 1700s. That juxtaposition became even more awkward considering the racial protests of that summer, and the harsh realities of Washington’s slave quarters and teeth.

And he closes with his Trump impersonation. Gillis says he misses the wackiness of Donald Trump’s presidential speeches, and takes his special’s title from a phrase in Trump’s late-night speech to America where he announced the killing of an ISIS leader. All of which allows Gillis to imagine how Trump must’ve responded in the moment watching that live military operation, as well as other ways it could’ve played out.

Our Take: It may have been all too easy to dismiss Gillis in 2019 when the media jumped on his impromptu podcast remarks for using a racial slur. Even now that he’s established himself as a national headliner, Gillis knows he has work to do to win over certain demographics. “I understand most of the women here are girlfriends that were dragged to this show, that already don’t really like me, ‘cause every time they’re in their car their boyfriends are like, ‘Babe, listen to this part of the podcast,’” he says. “I’m aware.”

Whenever he makes jokes about race (such as his suggestion that White Americans stopped being cool when they first saw Jackie Robinson play for the Dodgers), or calls anything “gay” or “retarded,” he’s quick with a smile and an acknowledgement that he knows he’s transgressing.

He has the self-awareness to play both sides of the aisle, as it were. At one point, he mocks his love of history as a sign of “early onset Republican” — tagging it with a roast of dads and older white guys making too much of a fuss over little things, “to be a prick about everything.”

And as he has in past performances, Gillis makes fun of himself for looking like he has Down syndrome, only this time, he ups the ante by revealing that he indeed has close relatives with Down syndrome, and that they’re the nicest most fun members of his family. He singles out his Uncle Danny, who Gillis jokes is the kind of guy who’ll sneak pre-made grilled cheese sandwiches into a restaurant just in case they’re not on the menu, deny he made them, then turn and wink and confess he did.

In a way, Shane’s not unlike his Uncle Danny. He presents as a grinning, somehow lovable oaf. But he’s no dummy. Gillis knows exactly what he’s doing onstage.

Our Call: STREAM IT. Since SNL isn’t back to work yet anyhow, it might be a fun thought experiment to watch Gillis as a stand-up and imagine how he would’ve fared had he stuck as a cast member. He certainly doesn’t seem like he needs the show now.

Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat. He also podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin stories:The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.

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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Shane Gillis: Beautiful Dogs’ On Netflix, Where A Once Cancelled Comedian Proves His Bark Is Worse Than His Bite (2024)
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