Donald Glover is that kid at your school that goes out for football his senior year and ends up becoming all-state. Not literally mind you. I don’t know what kind of athletic skills Glover possesses unless you count blanket fort building (see what I did there Community fans). But he can do anything he tries. He’s an actor by trade, he’s a rapper under the pseudonym Childish Gambino and now he’s proven to be a successful stand-up comedian with his second stand-up special and first full hour for Comedy Central. If you live under several rocks, Glover is perhaps best known for his role as Troy Barnes on NBC’s Community. He’s also part of the YouTube sensation DerricksComedy and star of the group’s movie “Mystery Team.”
What makes Glover so spectacular are two things. His great ability to draw his audience in and make them relate to him, and his keen observance of several social oddities and norms. When he’s on the stage he talks conversationally and honestly. Most comedians are an inflated persona of themselves on stage but Donald uses the stage as an escape into honesty from the rapping and TV personas he already has.
There are several moments that reflect this, like when he asks, “Who doesn’t want to be Spiderman?” Or when he discovers a new way to insult people, he reacts, “You can say those words in that order without having to explode?” or “I haven’t heard that one!” It’s those small moments that capture his genuine self that have nothing to do with humor and everything to do with shared experience. We can all imagine wanting to be our favorite superhero or first learning curse words.
On the other hand Glover can move away from childlike kinsmanship into being a shrewd social satirist. Perhaps because he reminds himself too much of one, Glover hates kids, and explains that that’s why he wears condoms. STDs and AIDS, he says, are not as bad as “tiny Hitlers,” adding “The only difference is you can’t go to jail for accidentally dropping AIDS.”
Take another example, like when Donald comments on the nature of communication between men and women. “When a sentence begins with ‘What did you mean by that?’ It’s not going to end with the person going ‘Oh now I know what you mean by that.’” On multiple occasions he uses very simple real life scenarios and idiosyncrasies to connect further with his audience.
Glover’s material is as varied as his career. On the one hand he talks about his nerdy dream of being Spiderman and then ten minutes later he’s going off on homeless people and before you know it he’s explaining to you why Charlie Sheen is the only white person who can say the N-word. The album Weirdo lives up to its name. It feels as though right now the stand-up community needs that weirdness that can talk “nerdy” and the N-word. Hopefully for comedy fans, Glover will continue growing this branch of his career.
About the Author: Nate Rankin writes Comedy Reviews and Fiction because no one taught him any better. His fiction has been featured by Workers Writes, theNewerYork! and Used Gravitrons and is forthcoming in The Green Blotter. His work can be seen here: http://iamseamus.tumblr.com/writing You can find him on the Tweety Box @CommanderSeamus If you'd like to submit a review inquiry please send to nrankin22[at]gmail[dot]com