This review may be a little different than the others, but I want to do it justice. I want to tell you chronologically what happened with me and Christina P.
Let’s start with what I did know about Christina before this special, because that won’t take long. I know she has had a few specials in the past, but I never watched them. I know she has a podcast, but listening to any one person for two hours straight about essentially nothing would entice me to jump out a window. Finally, I know the bottom-barrel ten minutes of garbage she gave Amy Schumer for her Netflix is a Joke Festival special, which I would never like to revisit. Please. You can’t make me.
With that abhorrence fairly fresh in my mind, I reluctantly hit play on “Mom Genes,” her fourth hour-long comedy special, and the second on Netflix. First, it starts out more or less what I expected: a lot of abrasion, a lot of spite, and a lot of voices that sound like a music box put through a meat grinder. She definitely saved the better jokes for her special, she got me a few times talking about sensitivity of today’s age (what the hell IS a nut-free granola bar?), but overall, the first 15 minutes had me less than enthused for another barrage of over-the-top “back in my day” humor and uninspired observations.
Then, around the twenty-minute mark, she sits down and does something I never expected: she got real. She spoke about having cold, harsh parents growing up, and how she wants to give her children a different upbringing than she did, or as she quoted her therapist, “bReAkInG tHe CyCle Of GeNeRaTiOnAl TrAuMa.” Sure, she mocked a lot of the technical mumbo-jumbo that came with today’s sensitivities, but she also subtly recognized that those sensitivities helped her understand her past and her own family life. It was astute, it was vulnerable, and it hit me like I’d fallen down a flight of stairs.
And then you know what happened? I started smiling.
I started laughing at her jokes. Her punchlines still had that edge, but it was coming from a much more relatable place. It wasn’t just some woman making “my kids drive me crazy and my husband is an idiot” jokes. It was your pal Christina talking to you, and her kids call her a “dishbag”, and her husband is Tom Segura. On the surface, I just said two sentences that are synonyms of each other, but the difference was that slight bit of credibility and emotion she inserted near the top of her set.
To me, “Mom Genes” is a perfect example of the difference between telling jokes and stand-up comedy. Sure, jokes are what make up a set, but jokes in a vacuum can only be so funny. However, when context, originality, and essence is put into the jokes, that’s when the potential for a set goes through the roof. Was it my favorite genre of comedy? No. I’ve had enough Gen X people tell me how easy I have it. I’m all tuckered out, thank you. But as I turn off the special after tears have welled up in Christina’s eyes after a strange but powerful (and funny) anecdote, I must admit that she has demonstrated exactly what comedy can and should be.