This has to be one of the most painful comedy attempts I've seen since Pompidou.
In order to get in to the show that he turned into his latest Netflix special, you were given sticks and made to demonstrate rudiments on a drum pad in order to prove you have sufficient percussionist skills to get in. In other words, welcome to an entire hour of inside references, a third of which might elicit a giggle, played to a crowd.
An example of one of his comments: "As a drummer.... we're better than everybody". I mean, way to get a cheap cheer out of a bunch of Portland hipsters.
The first part of the routine is him playing short snippets of a bunch of different music types (and poor examples of them at that - especially the jazz music which sounded like it was taken from a high school jazz band rehearsal), such as jazz, zydeco, and doo wop and standing there saying "you know, you know, you know, I just can't get into that. I mean people like this, they, this, you know, they had a BAND. And REHEARSAL SPACE." There's nervous laughter around the room but nothing seems to bite.
Congratulations, in lieu of humor, you start out by being a complete Philistine of a douche. Just because there are forms of music other than some kind of 80s alternative garage rock that you and your fellow skinny pricks listen to doesn't mean they are terrible.
He then goes off into a literal rambling of assorted bits of attempts of observational comedy, like a low rent SNL hipster attempt at Seinfeld, few of which actually elicit laughs. "Have you ever carried a snare case through an airport?" I doubt it Fred, most of the people in the audience are weekend warrior wannabees who thought this a better place to hang than Guitar Center that night, playing obnoxiously loud and opining on about birch vs maple in the same kind of holier-than-thou snobbery usually reserved for real ale snobs.
And there's not even a buildup, any idea of setup, middle, punchline, theme, or any meaningful segue. One minute he's nervously asking if anyone's carried a snare case. Then "when you look at a car, do you ask yourself where the bass drum is going to go?" and then into "do we really need to carry our own cymbals to the gig? We do. When cymbal shopping we talk about them right? Saying they have "a dark tone." "A dark tone."" There's no art to it, it's just Armisen saying random shit and hoping that by playing to the gallery he'll get a giggle. And a giggle is all he gets.
"Hey, the last time you or someone else went to Turkey it was like, did you go to the Zildjian factory?" I'm reasonably sure most people in that theater typically carpool between different west coast towns, never mind not having the resources to fly to a different continent.
At one point he wants to make a point about a double bass pedal, and supposedly goes backstage because he's forgotten it. That's a ruse to show a pre-taped segment in which he has Sheila E do a prop gag about the "octa-pedal", a set of eight Iron Cobra Tama double pedals linked together of which she uses exactly two to do what is in essence a tap dance routine in heels. It's a nice piece of drumming by a drum goddess, but Armisen doesn't do anything with it. He returns from "backstage" empty handed to go on about how he's toured in many places.
And this is the real problem with this special. There's absolutely no organization, writing skill, or genuine comic chops here. It's just a collection of random odd ideas he's had, such as being aggravated with having to screw and unscrew cymbal stand screws in on top of cymbals on his stands. (Most people toss them and just leave the cymbals as they are). Most comics would take these ideas, store them aside, and use them to craft jokes. Armisen just says them at they are and hope the audience does the work of seeing the nonsensical nature of his observation.
And it isn't as if he sticks to drum topics. At one point he points to various parts of a US map and poorly imitates the accents of same (the only one he gets right is Vermont, which sounds exactly like Bernie Sanders). In riffing on these various accents he makes completely nonsensical comments, like the Upper East Side is a medical condition, the Bronx is in the lungs, and New Jersey sounds like of like the accent is trying to punch someone. But since he does a completely shit job of doing accents, the laughter (which is the most laughter he gets all night) is almost a self-conscious one.
To show you how completely self-unaware Armisen is, he asks at one point something to the effect of "You ever seen something where there's an adult and a child and another adult
and the adult says some kind of inside joke and then just winks and nobody else gets it?" For the past 22 minutes of this goddamn special, yes, you, you hipster dickhead.
Oh God, it just keeps coming - apparently great photography is black and white shots of wrinkled poor people proud of something. Lest we forget that pretentiousness and being utterly bourgeois and looking down your nose at others is the hallmark of hipsterdom. Oh, also guitarists have tiny, wispy bodies. Like muscle-built, Viking-tall Zakk Wylde, Fred? I don't exactly see any real amount of musculature on your pasta-limbed balding meatsuit either, lad.
The only truly amusing bit is him doing an impersonation of fast motion video of a decomposing fox. But it's about five seconds out of an entire hour, and has nothing to do with drumming. He does a few five second impersonations as well, but it's less Victor Borge and more impersonating how they gurn behind a set.
The real problem, apart from the fact that Armisen as a SNL vet has no idea when an idea has gone on too long or when an idea hasn't had time to develop - too many interesting premises are just mentioned and never developed, and a sketch mocking a hipster pretentious duet on NPR goes on way beyond the point at which it's lived its usefulness.
Armisen seems like a nice guy, until he mentions his fan letter response from John Waters. And mentions he wrote a school essay in which he'd like to spend his last day on earth setting fire to people and smashing store windows. He seems almost likeable until he pulls this off, and then you realize he's like that weird kid in school with no friends that adults tried to make you play with out of their own sympathy - and you gave it the college try until you realized there's reasons for this and he just spends his time mocking other kids to try to be popular. Armisen himself is rich, has a hit show, and a smoking hot girlfriend, so I don't feel guilty for saying this or like he's missing out on anything by being so.
The only interesting part of the show he did was doing a series on various iterations of the drum kit from the 1920s (chop cymbal, Chinese tom-tom and blocks) through the 40s Big Band, 50s backbeat rock and roll, 60s funk, 70s power rock with clear acrylic shells, and 1980s Simmons electronic pads to 90s eclectic kits. But keeping in mind he's playing to an audience of drummers, they already know this.
He has Tre Cool of Green Day, Thomas Lang and Stella Mozgawa from Warpaint show up, who genuinely play, and that's not to his advantage because they have immaculate time sense and play actual beats on time perfectly whereas Armisen likes to play as illustration enough beat and a couple of fills to show that he can hold sticks and play rudiments to some degree, but fundamentally has awful time sense.
In passing, Lang's presence on stage actually gives me an idea of Armisen's real height, because I've personally met Lang, and the man is least two inches over six feet tall, and though shorter, Armisen's in the same range. Carmine Appice is extremely tall.
At the end he brings the three drummers out for a unison performance at the end, and we're hoping for a drum battle, but instead all they do is play a few bars of a simple 4/4 rock beat. Considering the sheer amount of raw talent on the stage, it's practically criminal that none of the three are given any amount of time to throw down.
But then again, it's like the rest of the special, in theory a whole lot of potential that is completely and utterly wasted in Armisen's self-indulgent inability to see anything he's been given to any real conclusion. For God's sake Netflix, you put up my rates by 50% for fucking THIS?