It has been a while since we genuinely enjoyed a stand-up special. Mark Normandy is not most people’s cup of tea. It is evident that he doesn’t care one bit, and with a lot of his jokes, he is out to offend. Mind you, there is no hidden political commentary within his jokes that we often associate with most left-leaning comedians. He genuinely doesn’t care for the left or right alike, and in the words of Hannah Gadsby, Mark Normandy sounds genuinely “tired” of everything. We get the appeal of him. Where everyone is playing it safe with jokes on family, children, and more inconsequential things to avoid being canceled or attacked on stage, Mark Normandy is calling out people for being too woke.
In some ways, maybe the style of delivery that he has demands these very jokes that he makes. He may call himself Kevin Hart, which is also a joke about how he is not as successful as him, but the latter would never say the stuff Mark Normandy does. His jokes are just as vanilla as anybody else’s, but his energy, style of delivery, and, most of all, his constancy are what lend him his success, as we recently discussed in the context of his comedy special “Kevin Hart: Reality Check.” Frankly, that should have been the name of Mark Normandy’s special instead of Soup to Nuts.
We did not expect to like Mark’s comedy special during its first few minutes. No doubt he was immediately interesting, but he took his time working his way up to the really offensive stuff. Before we continue, we would like to discuss what constitutes offensive since we are going to be using that word a lot. We all have certain opinions that center around our lifestyles, privileges, and what kind of world we live in and would like to build for the future. There is a lot of intersection within these very thoughts and feelings, and while some take them into consideration, others are far more rigid.
Now, when someone (not necessarily a comedian) takes on a different side of the issue that the listener might not be aware of or talks about the issue in a tone and with words that people generally don’t agree with, we tend to get defensive because our first instinct is to assume that somebody is going to say something wrong. We are not blaming the defense mechanism because that has been the general attitude and climate of recent times, where lots of people have had to face their ignorance the tough way and learn that it is not a world that gives a free pass to people saying whatever they want without sensitivity or knowledge. But again, this entire thing has created more noise than solutions, which is why Mark Normandy joining the Tower of Babel is not going to change or affect the world.
We will not discuss the lines that Mark Normandy in Soup to Nuts has toed or crossed (except one or two that we feel personally about). All kinds of people will be watching his special, and everyone has different limits. However, it is up to each individual to decide whether they will be taken in by a troll (not necessarily an insult). As we said before, Mr. Normandy is being offensive on purpose. Will you allow him to get a rise out of you, or will you listen to his words with a filter in your mind, or will you prefer to ignore him altogether? The pettiest people would do the second thing, and that is the group that we belong to. Please understand that we are not defending Mark Normandy. While we understand why anything other than a complete dismissal might feel like a support, we cannot reiterate enough that it is not so. Additionally, we cannot vouch for what other communities find offensive or why or why not that might be the case.
The fact of the matter is that public figures do not owe allegiance to any single group simply because they are famous. They don’t owe it to anyone to be woke, smart, or politically aware. But they do owe it to the popularity and influence they desire to choose their words carefully. People look up to them because they want to look like them, act like them, and be like them. But the ones that people want to talk like are comedians, and they are the only group of public figures who have that power. One would believe that it doubles their responsibility to say the right thing, but surprisingly, their only duty is to be funny, and Mark Normandy is on point with that in Soup to Nuts.
Comedians are also the only bunch where one cannot argue that art and the artist can never be separated by any argument. In Mr. Normandy’s special, we certainly don’t find some bits funny, the kind where our philosophy clashes with his. When we are put off by those jokes, we are judging the comedian as a person. Sure, nobody’s perfect, but when those imperfections are your art, your personality is up for criticism and applause accordingly. That is why we can say that the man needs to read up on what “false equivalence” means. As for the rest of the jokes, maybe a good-faith reading of them will help people enjoy them. Yet, as Mark Normandy: Soup to Nuts panned to the audience after the comedian left the stage, we saw that it was full of straight white men.
Regarding the Soup to Nuts special itself, we loved that Mark Normandy cared not about offending people but about entertaining them. This was a welcome breath of fresh air after watching specials like Amy Schumer: Emergency Contact and Tom Segura: Sledgehammer. He had the energy and the good jokes, which is why the fake laugh track felt a bit unnecessary at times. The special was making people laugh well enough without it. Overall, we have enjoyed the show, and for those who don’t mind the lines of offense being toed, this is a great comedy special.