‘Dusty Slay: Workin’ Man’ Review: Netflix Standup Special Is Underwhelming & Only Funny In Parts


It’s hard to say why Dusty Slay: Workin’ Man is so boring. He definitely put a lot of heart into it, and the audience also seemed to be genuinely enjoying his material. Dusty Slay was clearly not just ticking off a day at work and Netflix honestly believed that his material was funny and worthy of the time on stage. In such a case, we have to wonder whether I was not the audience for his material, and that was why I couldn’t bring myself to laugh at all.

For starters, the man did not stop himself from making liberal use of a laugh track, though the editors had the good sense to show clips of the audience actually enjoying themselves in the few bits that managed to be funny. We have resigned to the use of that track, but can it be edited to be more natural? A group of people laughing doesn’t sound like that at all, with an abrupt high followed by an immediate low and silence. Regardless, some people in the audience were having the time of their lives, and their shrieks and bellows were well noted, as was the genuine enthusiasm at the standing ovation.

Dusty Slay does start with a good joke, about repeating the fact that he is excited 3–4 times, which actually added to the laughter. He repeats a lot of other stuff as well (without the disclaimer), but he has set the stage for its acceptance. Most of his jokes are about how the tips and tricks he uses to be as ‘gross’ as he wants. We are not sure whether to believe that he actually doesn’t like washing his hands, but it is true that people do have elaborate routines to hide their secret bathroom habits. Dusty Slay points out that the new environmentally conscious methods employed by public bathrooms, like taps that need your hands under them to release the water, have made ‘pretending’ rather difficult and have forced him to commit to the entire thing. In so many ways, this bit reminds us of the godforsaken trend a few years back, where people took on the challenge of licking ice cream and putting it back in the supermarket aisles. Was he taking an indirect dig at them, or was he one of them? He mentions that his biggest problems with mask-wearing during COVID were how he couldn’t stop touching his face and that he was a major burper who ‘sent things right back in or towards his nose’. I suppose he missed out on talking about how the masks also fogged up the glasses. Dusty Slay has gorgeous hair, and it looks like it is the result of a proper shampooing and conditioning routine. Maybe that is why he doesn’t mind when that ends up in his hair because he knows how clean it is. That could also be why he convinces himself that it is his, because he doesn’t want to sacrifice good food because of stray hair that is washed at least once a week. A final possibility is that Dusty Slay believes in karma and thinks that he needs to put up with the hair if he wishes to continue not washing his hands in public toilets.

Dusty Slay talks about a lot of things, and we would like to believe that he gives an explanation for his thought process during this set. He refers to his TED Talk, where he forgot what he was about to say, so he said random stuff and connected it loosely. That has to be the inspiration for Dusty Slay: Workin’ Man. He also makes sure to give context about his material from the TED Talk because if there is one thing that a comedian hates, it is a joke that is not funny in the way he intended it. Being unfunny is a better choice than that, and Dusty Slay opts for it.

One of Dusty Slay’s strongest bits was the one about how he brought drugs and how he had to stop himself because his grandmother’s real wealth was the stuff she had crocheted. After all, he couldn’t steal that to give to his dealer. Maybe the dealer had his own grandmother who crocheted stuff for him. If only Dusty Slay’s grandmother had jewelry and generational wealth, he would have had the freedom and choice to be an addict.

The reason we mentioned the laugh track and Dusty Slay’s commitment is because there is a point in the set where he seems to realize that his jokes aren’t as funny as his audience is encouraging. He thanks the people for being lovely and welcoming, and then talks about how laughing at his own jokes feels insincere to him. From here, he takes a sharp swerve to talk about how he has stopped ‘dipping’ because he has a child now, and he wants to be a healthier and cleaner man for him. Taking into account Dusty Slay’s commitment to loose connections, maybe he wanted to say that he wanted to write better material than fall back on easy tricks to get the laughs because he wants to set a standard for his child and be proud. Whether or not this was a good set, Dusty Slay has a lot of self-awareness, and he is not intent on fooling himself.

Towards the end of Dusty Slay: Workin’ Man, the comedian brings up a lot of anecdotes that happened when he was under the influence. He starts talking about how people may make flies homeless or estranged by letting them out of cars. He also mentions the criteria for liking a coffee and what he looks for when buying it. He has problems choosing between ‘drip and pours over.’ Wait till he discovers the types of milk available these days. There is a reason black coffee drinkers are said to have a limited worldview. Dusty Slay misses some very obvious jokes in favor of ones that are equally unfunny. At the end of the day, this set was funny in parts. Dusty Slay’s attitude and heart makes me want to give him another chance, but Workin’ Man remains skippable.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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