While it is a given that the art of storytelling is essential to stand-up, we perhaps underestimate just how much that is enough in itself. When we think of someone with a sense of humor, we think of their ability to deliver punchlines, make co-relationships, or deliver well-timed retorts. But we often overlook just how effective a simple story can be by itself, if said with the right spirit. Kountry Wayne: A Woman’s Prayer does not lack those one-liners, but they are the lesser part of what makes this stand-up special so fun.
In many ways, Kountry Wayne reminds us of Kevin Hart, with their style of storytelling and the energy they exude on stage. It is hard to say what makes them different, maybe except for the fact that Kevin Hart has more experience with him. That is not to say that they are replaceable with each other, because as you spend the hour watching A Woman’s Prayer you can tell that they are going to be doing different things going forward, no matter how similar they may have felt this one time. On that note, this was one of those stand-up specials that had us hooked throughout. It had a quality that we love with comedy: that of effortlessness, and we suppose this is a difference between him and Kevin Hart, who makes the effort very visible. It is a personal opinion, but we like our comedy to feel more organic. As in, we know that we paid money so that the person in front of us could make us laugh, and we want to get our coin’s worth, but at the same time, we also want it to feel like we are just talking to a friend, and the good time we are having just took a comedic turn by itself. It is the kind of deception we like, and in our opinion, the mark of a good comedian is in how well he delivers it.
This is also the reason why a comedian’s engagement with the audience is so important. Comedy is always meant to provoke and make someone think, be it a basic dad joke on Instagram or a stand-up set in Washington, DC. That is why it becomes so necessary to read and watch comedy with good faith. When Kountry Wayne talks about AIDS, was he being offensive, or was he making fun of the time he was ignorant? This is an important question to ask. When he was talking about cheating, was he enabling it, or was he just pointing out the tragicomedy nature of the act while keeping morals at a distance? Asking these questions makes a difference in how we consume the comedy he presents to us.
And finally, when he talks about Black people’s relationship with money, is he reinforcing stereotypes, or is he talking about a community’s coping mechanisms due to multiple systems of oppression in place? This will tell us whether we just need to laugh or if we need to start thinking as well. After all, when it comes to comedians presenting relatable comedy, the kind they derive from their daily lives, the background, community, and lifestyle of the person will come into play, along with all of their politics and their own perspectives towards it. That is why the same genre of comedy becomes so different when it comes from someone privileged and from someone who is not so privileged. A person with privilege will not have the same take on politics or the same anger and courage that it takes to admit to the legal transgressions done out of terrible circumstances. We are not supporting Kountry Wayne’s dubious past, but we understand that there may have been no other way for him.
We also feel the need to talk about Kountry Wayne’s faith, since that plays a significant role in the series. As with the other topics he dug into, it is easy to wonder whether he is being preachy. But you know immediately that he isn’t, because he has separated his gratitude and faith from the institutions of it, and we cannot help but applaud the cleverness of the writing for keeping it so subtle yet so obvious.
But then, if we really had to find something to complain about, we would say that the name of the special doesn’t do much justice to the set. There is a good ten to fifteen minutes about infidelity and anger; however, we never understood what happened to the said woman’s anger. But we did get quite a bit about Kountry Wayne’s grandmother’s anger. Forget comedians; we want grandmothers from across the world to host an annual roundtable conference where they talk about their families. That would be comedy gold, and we would give away our entire paycheck to watch that.
But coming to the point of a very weak complaint, the title makes it sound like ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,’ but the special itself says that it was an inconvenient hiccup and nothing else. However, there is another thing that we noticed but are not sure about. When Kountry Wayne joked about wanting his children’s mothers to die, we were reminded of a similar joke that Tom Segura made in his special Sledgehammer. We had found the latter problematic, but Kountry Wayne’s joke actually felt funny because he got the context and pulse of it right, and we don’t mind some rudeness in comedy. It just goes to show how differently a joke or a statement can be perceived depending on who and how it is being delivered, but we would like to know if there are other opinions regarding it.
Basically, Kountry Wayne: A Woman’s Prayer promises a good time and delivers it. It is value for money, and there are next to no fake laugh tracks. It is one of those rare stand-up specials that makes us regret not being there as a part of the audience and instead, just watching it through a screen. This is a great watch, and if you don’t break out into hysterical laughter, at least you will have a broad smile on your face for the entire time.