‘Pete Lee: Tall, Dark, and Pleasant’ On Showtime, A People-Pleasing Comedian For Divisive Times

These purple curtains in his backdrop are certainly a delicate tribute to Prince, however Wisconsin native Pete Lee, who began his comedy profession in Minneapolis, isn’t out to shock or titillate you along with his stand-up comedy. In truth, because the final phrase within the title of his first hour particular for Showtime suggests, he goals to please, in a way more inoffensive means.

The Gist: In the event you acknowledge Pete Lee for something apart from stand-up comedy, then it’s since you have been an avid watcher of VH1 within the mid-2010s, when his speaking head supplied commentary for retrospectives each short- (Finest Week Ever) and long-term (I Love the 2000s). However the comic makes his bread and butter by performing stand-up as a man who could be described as “white bread” himself. Maybe no surprise he has turn into a favourite of Jimmy Fallon’s, performing six occasions on The Tonight Present since 2017.

His debut hour for Showtime represents a end result of the fabric he has honed over his a few years on the highway, self-deprecating in how he mocks his “good man” persona, and reflecting on his have to keep away from battle and people-please.

Pete Lee: Tall, Dark, and Pleasant (2021)
Photograph: Showtime

What Comedy Specials Will It Remind You Of?: There aren’t actually a ton of aw-shucks comics working at this time. For Midwesterners who mission healthful vibes, you’d must go all the best way again perhaps to Bob Newhart? Extra modern: Jim Gaffigan? Both means, neither offers a straight line to Lee. Maybe simply understanding Lee is a favourite of Fallon will clue you in sufficient for what’s in retailer.

Memorable Jokes: One in every of his first jokes, about his appears, makes an impression, though not for the explanation he expects? Lee quips: “I simply appear like if the Property Brothers had one other brother, who’s not a twin.” Besides, weirdly sufficient, if you happen to watch sufficient Property Brothers, you then already know that Jonathan and Drew Scott have an older brother, JD. Anywhooooooo.

Of his Wisconsin accent, Lee additionally apologizes, joking, “that’s why every little thing I say appears like ‘Oh my gosh, crepes tater tots,’” then parlaying that right into a bit about how he in some way auditioned for the function of a Brooklyn police detective on Legislation & Order: SVU. Spoiler alert: He didn’t get the half.

Even his identify is fodder for self-mockery, because the comic transforms his moniker into an adverb, “peterly,” for different contextual clues as to his standing as not an alpha male. So in fact, he’s not going to consider that every one males are creeps, as a result of he’s not. “Males are canines? Yeah, golden retrievers.” In his relationships, the lady’s in cost, coaching him for future buying expeditions and the idea that he desires to do no matter she desires to do.

Then once more, Lee tries to keep away from conflicts with anybody and everybody. Though he loves bearing witness to the conflicts of others.

Lee’s not an particularly bodily comic, however he does act out two longer tales within the again half of the hour; one wherein he follows a pair he overheard combating on a flight; the opposite, about by accident consuming an excessive amount of of a weed gummy (due to his pal, Ari (comic Ari Shaffir)) earlier than one other flight.

Our Take: As a result of this can be a case of a comic recording his best hits for posterity, I’ll overlook the weirdness of getting two lengthy airplane tales in an hour through the pandemic that don’t handle or acknowledge the pandemic in any respect, since they seemingly date again years. Equally, there’s additionally a piece of jokes about dancing with rest room movement sensors that feels a bit overdone if you happen to’ve watched any observational comedians this century.

However that’s what occurs when your goal is people-pleasing. Giving audiences what they need could delight them, however gained’t essentially shock them, both.

In a means, although, that makes a conflict-avoidant comic like Lee much more interesting on this age when each different comic and commentator is strolling on eggshells of their very own making. As he told me in an interview final week, “It’s kinda enjoyable having humor that’s common. I don’t know that there’s a variety of comics on the market proper now the place their demographic is, ‘Hey, all people!’”

To Lee, which means cultivating audiences that may have older conservative followers sitting and laughing alongside younger trans followers. He informed me: “As someone who likes to be inclusive of everybody, it makes me really feel actually comfortable that in such a divided nation proper now that I’ve like one little factor the place folks can all come right into a room and so they form of agree upon it. I hope that doesn’t sound too tacky.”

Fortuitously for Lee, there’s at all times room in America for cheeseheads. Even outdoors of Wisconsin.

Our Name: STREAM IT. While you want a break from serial-killer docuseries or no matter unhappy factor you’re watching, your loved ones is certain to search out widespread floor and an escape right here.

Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat for his personal digital newspaper, The Comic’s Comic; earlier than that, for precise newspapers. Primarily based in NYC however will journey wherever for the news: Ice cream or information. He additionally tweets @thecomicscomic and podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin tales: The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.

Watch Pete Lee: Tall, Dark, and Pleasant on Showtime



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