When we say we have never heard of Tom Segura, we are not questioning his popularity but merely mentioning that it never reached us. That is why, when we started watching Sledgehammer, we had no idea what to expect, and it is a given that we wouldn’t get the throwback jokes that fans who have been following his work for a while would. Thankfully, there did not seem to be much of it, and in the one instance that they came up, the slam dunk injury case, he explained it all the way from the beginning. Our point is that we did not feel left out.
However, we are unable to ignore the fact that comedians these days simply seem to have given up. We recently saw Amy Schumer’s Emergency Contact, and it looked like she couldn’t wait to go back home. As for Tom Segura’s Sledgehammer, he seemed to care a bit more than her, but still not enough. It is a given that comedians often draw their sets from their real-life experiences, and if they are parents, it is natural that their children will find a place in the jokes. We don’t mind that, but we feel annoyed that there is absolutely no effort to make the jokes new or fresh. These are things we have literally heard every other comedian who is a parent, say on stage, so a laidback delivery from Tom Segura did not make the cut.
Additionally, did anyone else find it uncomfortable when he toed the line with jokes on “child abuse”? We are not sure of our feelings on this one and are wondering whether we are overthinking it. One thing we can say for sure is that the jokes were not funny, but we cannot be sure if they were actually that offensive. It remains that nothing is sacred when it comes to comedy, but how well that is presented and in what essence is the deciding factor of whether it is passable or not.
Another thing that really bothered us was the laugh track in Tom Segura: Sledgehammer. While we saw people actually laughing and clapping in the latter half of the show, we couldn’t believe that those very laughs were genuine in the first half. A good comedy special may not make you burst out laughing multiple times, but it keeps up the consistency of spirit. We cannot be convinced that Tom Segura’s show had that quality, and the dead giveaway was that the laughter was followed by drop-dead silence, proving that it never happened. The purpose of a fake laugh track is to point out the joke for the sake of the audience. But more often than not, it is used to validate mediocrity, where a joke is not even funny, but people’s fake laughter in the background makes it okay for it to be there.
We have heard many times that “comedy is a serious business,” and we know that it has been taken seriously when writers and comedians don’t have to rely on a laugh track to know that the job is well done. This is why Kanye West, as problematic as he is, had a point when he said that F.R.I.E.N.D.S. was not funny and why the recent popularity of Modern Family makes a lot more sense. Sure, streaming giants like Netflix constantly want to churn out content, so mediocrity is prevalent, but where is the artists’ pride in their work, or has it been sacrificed for the lure of a good check? Despite our words, we are not judging them for it but are actually sad about the state of affairs. It does not make us happy to watch an unfunny one-hour special that must have had months of work behind it, yet it was not good enough simply because it did not need to be.
While watching Tom Segura: Sledgehammer, we were reminded of the two-minute comedy sets of Jerry Seinfeld that happened before and after the actual episode. They were never funny, yet the audience was in splits, and we could tell it was fake and only a way to show that Jerry Seinfeld was indeed the comic protagonist of the show. It was sad because the actual episodes were indeed funny, so we never understood why his jokes were so bland in his actual sets in the show.
We suppose it is an artist’s responsibility to live an interesting life for the sake of his art. They cannot afford to be boring, or they won’t have the inspiration to create entertaining content. But what we forget is that there also needs to be a drive to use that inspiration. Parents making adult jokes with their children is not a new insight, and neither is the objective of humanizing them through it. We can accept that, but we just cannot fathom why Tom Segura did not even try to do something different. The only thing that set him apart from Amy Schumer’s attitude in Emergency Contact was that, despite his lack of effort, he wanted people to laugh, whereas she did not care. That confuses us more regarding who we should side with on this.
Tom Segura: Sledgehammer was not funny or interesting, but we blame the current state of O.T.T. platforms for that instead of the comedians. We give the streaming giant watch hours because, in an increasingly fast-paced and isolated world, this is the prevalent form of entertainment. You market something hard enough, and its quality ceases to be important, and all that matters is whether we have gotten on the bandwagon of watching it. Tom Segura: Sledgehammer is one such piece of content. His decent popularity (we searched for him on Google) means that his niche audience will watch it; they might even find it to be good due to their own loyalty, but that doesn’t negate the fact that he did not care that much. It is a sorry state of affairs, and we wish things were different, but until that day comes, maybe we are better off revisiting the golden days of stand-up comedy from half a decade ago or watching new comedians making waves on YouTube rather than placing our faith in Netflix.