REVIEW: Dave Landau

To say I was severely unimpressed would be a vast understatement, yet to call the experience uncomfortable would be an even greater one. The show began innocuously enough, with opening sets from local comedians Jeff Ford, Reese Leonard, and Bret Hayden. Though the openers contained a healthy mix of self-deprecation and poking fun at everyday frustrations, the headliner himself fell short in both departments and managed to present himself as misogynistic, transphobic, Islamophobic, racially ignorant, and generally worthy-of-cringe – all within a one hour time span. In hindsight, Landau’s initial shoulders-back-beer-belly-out swagger onto stage should have primed me for the untamable discomfort that was to follow,  a discomfort amplified with each distasteful joke about marginalized communities that was somehow ‘validated’ by waves of  tipsy, white laughter.

I’ll admit it; Landau is not an unfunny comic. During his set’s rare, unproblematic moments, his lackadaisical demeanor actually contributed to the joke’s delivery and drew out some genuine laughs. His fast-paced opening line and commentary about his colorful drug history were humorously original, but beyond those candid pockets, the premises of most of his jokes were rooted in the systematic objectification and demeaning of women and mocking the advancement of societal acceptance for communities like the LGBTQ+. Within minutes of taking the stage, Landau took an inappropriate jab at the Dearborn Muslim community and had the audacity to then improvise with two audience members with South Asian features by insinuating that they were Muslim, and later labelling them Indian. To add even more icing on the cake, Landau scanned the front row for more people of color to continue his racially ignorant bit with, before targeting my East Asian-looking friend. After that extended punchline, Landau’s attempts accelerated downhill: the white male comic found it in his place to objectify Transgender people as hybrid cars, continuously refer to women only in demeaning sexual contexts, all while under the cookie-cutter guise of lauding women for “being so strong” in undergoing menstruation and pregnancy. Oh, and shaming his wife’s post-childbirth vagina in reference to a wigged squirrel.

However it would be fruitless to paint Landau as the only perpetrator of such “comedic” tastelessness – he is but one of many contributors to America’s rampant ‘comedy man’ problem – which plagues the industry from Louis C.K to Richard Pryor and now, Dave Chappelle, with his Netflix special Sticks & Stones. Whilst sitting in the darkened room at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, enshrouded in raucous and affirmative white laughter, I finally realized the twisted nature of today’s American, male-dominated stand-up scene. Comedians such as Landau escape true scrutiny and are enabled to ascend to platforms like Comedy Central, using their privilege and defensive powers of “just wanting to make people laugh” to justify gross jokes all the while eschewing all political correctness as antithesis to ‘free speech’, or the art of stand-up itself.

Shannon Z

Shannon is a sophomore studying Art and Design and Philosophy. She routinely stalks various Instagram cat accounts, so stalk her back by checking out her work here:

10 thoughts to “REVIEW: Dave Landau”

  1. Here’s a thought.
    If you are a “woke” human, maybe don’t go to a comedy club. Or do go but on a “PG” night.
    Your article is completely bias and comes off 100% that you went to a comedy show to be “outraged.”
    How do I know this? Well, I am a woman with a sense of humor and have seen Dave Landau several times. He’s hilarious.
    You made a choice to talk about the JOKES that “triggered” you (you are the 1% by the way) because you think you have some sort of story here.
    And it’s a non-story.
    YOU are the problem plaguing comedy.
    YOU can’t take a joke.
    Oh, and you referring to his “beer belly” is fat-shaming. HOW DARE YOU!

  2. Oh and if you were “brave,” you’d allow comments to auto-post.
    But I guess you need to filter out the comments that you don’t like.

  3. I am a black woman who went to see my cousin Martini that was opening for this guy. A friend sent me your astory and I see you took a shot at Martini at the beginning of your article. That’s not cool. I liked the headliner but I might’ve been at a different show because both his openers was black men. He took a couple cheap shots but his stories were lit. He was very funny on stage and nice when he met us. You shouldn’t be acting like all he did was make white folks laugh. We all had fun and there was plenty POC at the show. We don’t need you white knighting for us. Your article is just a mean attempt to look progressive.

  4. Wow, where to begin? First off, the fact you wrote “I’ll admit; Landau is not an unfunny comic”, pretty much invalidates the rest of the words you used to convey outrage for clicks.

    I’m guessing you’ve never tried your hand at stand up before, or at most, have done an open mic or two and then quit because you weren’t funny. There isn’t anything that is off limits to talk about on stage. It just has to be funny. I was at this show, and the near sold out crowd laughed at pretty much everything that Dave said. There’s a reason Dave has been doing this very successfully for almost 20 years.

    I’ll give you some perspective on Dave. I know Dave. I’ve been friends with him for quite a number of years now. I’m also gay, and a comedian. Dave is gracious enough to take me on the road with him all over the country to open for him. He’s met my husband. Stayed in our home. He is the furthest from being homophobic. I have jokes in my act about the stereotypes that come along with being gay. Am I a homophobic comedian because I make light of things I observe about my community? Absolutely not. It’s no different for any other comic, including Dave.

    You also weren’t listening to Dave’s act very well. That table that he interacted with during the show, wouldn’t shut the hell up. He interacted with a heckler and poked fun at what he observed. It wasn’t malicious by any means. The Dearborn joke you referenced, was his observation that it’s a heavily islamic community. Which it is, and it was hilarious. Again there was no malice in that joke. He also has a lengthy bit where he is praising women for the things they endure such as child birth, and then turning it on men and explaining that we can’t do what they do. Seems like really malicious stuff he’s throwing out there.

    Again, I’ll remind you, that the entire room was laughing their asses off at all of the material that you’re complaining about. So this seems to be more of an issue that you have, than an issue with Dave’s act. That’s fine too, you don’t have to like a joke. But you’re not a voice for the masses. Oh and it’s not our fault that comedy is “male dominated”. Nobody has ever said, “Gee I’m really funny, but there’s too many men doing stand up, so I guess I can’t”. Maybe you could try adding to the female comedian pool.

  5. I’ve seen Dave a few times in MI and he was always great. Also the comment I see left for you is spot on and your response, not addressing the comment you received, isn’t surprising at all. Millennials like to cry about how they are offended and then shut down when someone rebuttals or write ok boomer like it even means anything. Sounds like you have no sense of humor and I’m sorry you wake up offended and like to tell people how to do their job by your standards.

  6. Dave raised thousands by orchestrating a fundraiser for my son. He passed away from rhabdomyosarcoma but what Dave did helped us immensely with expenses and furthering Daniel’s treatment. I genuinely hope you never have to experience the loss of child. You are also most certainly entitled to your opinion. I just think you should know the character of the person you have chosen to attack.

  7. Hi Rhonda, I am genuinely sorry for your loss and cannot fathom undergoing such a tragic experience. In addition, I applaud Dave Landau’s help in your situation. However, I find it important to clarify that however admirable his actions in that context may be, they are irrelevant to my article, which was essentially a critical review of Dave’s stand-up performance. Given that I do not know him personally and that my commentary is solely towards the views he publicly expresses through stand-up, my article is not an ad hominem/personal “attack” on Dave and should not be taken as such (contrary to the majority of its responses, in which the commenters have interestingly decided to respond ad hominem).

  8. With most anything in life, it’s important to understand to know about or at least try understand something before exposing yourself to that thing.

    You must not live in nor understand the context of “comedy” or “funny”.

    Do some more research and expose yourself more immensely to the realm of comedy before assuming so quickly and descriptively.

    Dave Landau is comedic gold.

    If you don’t like his show, it’s simple, don’t go.

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