Danny Archila’s review published on Letterboxd:
Problem Child: Leslie Jones
An urban-stylized title sequence shows opening credits and something personal. A young Leslie. She’s growing up. Going to school. Holding a mic at home and years later, a mic on stage with her hair down and her personality loose. She boards a plane and she’s locking down the comedy game with the integrity of her real-life roots. Our eyes land on a cool-coloured stage with squares and triangles with an edge as the background. Plenty of audience members bleed their cheers forward but we then hear a voice that dominates them all, only raising the excitement.
“Y’all know what time it is… This is not a game. This is one of the baddest females in comedy today! Y’all show some love, for my girl, ‘Big Les!’”
In the past several years, Leslie Jones has gone from rising star to television sensation, making audiences all over the U. S. A. crack up with her out-loud personality on and off NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Besides that, Jones has been fortunate enough to not only display her charismatic energy as John Cena’s “life coach” for the ESPYs and have Drake sit on her lap, but also play a central character in Paul Feig’s reboot of Ghostbusters, which hit theatres nationwide last Friday.
But before the massive stardom, Leslie Jones was just your (extra)ordinary stand-up comedian, otherwise known as “Big Les.” And while some may say that’s attributed to her size or outrageous perspective on life, I love to say it’s based on her huge passion for the craft. Y’see, Jones has put in the time and effort to transition from performing stand-up to writing sketches. But as one could easily tell, all this hustle into the spotlight has made her the muscle about what feels right with the current ensemble for SNL.
Originally posted by refinery29
Couldn’t’ve GIF’d it better myself, Leslie. Let’s get started…
This special does contain material not suitable for unattended children.
Her stand-up special, Problem Child: Leslie Jones, was released around 2009 or 2010, whilst filmed at The El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood, California. Jones wrote her jokes while Gary Binkow (Katt Williams: The Pimp Chronicles Pt. 1, Kevin Nealon: Now Hear Me Out!) served as director. Gary “G Thang Johnson announced her into an uproarious applause, mere minutes after an audience warm-up by Cookie Hull, accredited as “Simply Cookie.” I watched Jones’ special on Netflix but in a pursuit to have a better understanding of the significance of a role like Cookie’s I decided to delve in deeper…
Warm-Up Comic: “Simply” Cookie Hull
In the YouTube reel of her stand-up work—provided by Laugh Legion—I’ve noticed Cookie Hull* has a versatile manner of being topical while hilariously unexpected. Hull knows how men would react when she scolds their abusiveness, realises how childish it is to play expensive gaming devices on a 13-inch screen and even raps lines about what she needs a man for.
Certainly, this is one Cookie that has the “now, listen here!” bite strong enough to sink the hull of the Titanic.
Cookie Hull can be seen performing her set with the likes of Tiffany Haddish, April Macie, Luenell and Monique Marvez in Snoop Dogg Presents The Bad Girls Of Comedy.
*Pretty sure it’s NOT this Cookie the Comedian, in case you pondered.
Headliner: Leslie Jones
The type of material Leslie Jones deals with all zeroes in on one central theme: “I’ve got to get better.” She illustrates this with her amusing anger over anti-smoking commercials, that shouldn’t make her mad, but really make her want to contact the dealer in a rage to see if she can get more of the kush that’s making her dog talk about how she used to spend time with him..
Jones also elaborates on her jealousy of pretty women; how they’re capable of getting bought clothes, dinner and rides. Meanwhile, the only thing Jones would need to be romanced by a man into sex (which she wants) would just be weed. In total, it’d be relatively easy and cost-efficient.
Through these examples and others—such as a detailed hypothesis on how the whole of the animal kingdom plotted their attack on Steve Irwin before he’d wrangle them mercilessly in front of their children—Leslie accentuates a single woman’s perspective acutely to designate attention in on the fact that nobody’s perfect, but to survive the ever-changing style of this fickle world, you must adapt by using what your mother gave you. In this case, Jones’ humor, size and up-in-your-face persona.
(Although she does admit that she can ease up on how she flirts with men in the bar.)
Other lines she delivers may have cursings embedded: “What’s up you lonely bitches?” But the very understanding that she has the audience by the balls with such a cool confidence gives her a plethora of permission to go ahead and speak her mind, without filter.
Her segues are expertly crafted to flow from topic to topic. From her basketball days to her dreams of becoming a gymnast, this provides plenty of ability to call back certain jokes later on in her set. (Be prepared for flips of fancy.)
Getting back to her jealousy, Jones taunts herself, believing that with make-up, she would perfectly resemble Michael Clark Duncan. In all of this, we start to see where she would be insecure and react to all women, whether they are complaining about their boyfriends—which they ought to be feeling grateful enough to even have—or celebrating their independence, á la Beyoncé or Pussycat Dolls—by scaring the latter musicians into begging to know if “Don’tcha know that crazy bitch is af-ter me?… Don’t cha?”
The way Jones is creatively viewing in this show is a different perspective I rarely see on all points of life, such as Burger King and the creation of orgasms. It’s something revolutionary and blissful. Yes, some may say that her delivery sounds crass but I say their mentalities sound bland. Let her be her! She’s Leslie Jones for God’s sake!
How wonderfully exact she portrays the different members of any woman’s girl immediate friend group—a pussy posse, really—shows Jones’ spot-on impersonations of the Hoe, the Drunk, the Driver, the Bitch that doesn’t like shit and the Married Bitch.
The last of which closely resembled a nostalgic, stay-at-home wife who would favor flaking and reminscing over the phone instead of rekindling her former life.
Even I, a weakling and freak thing who rarely goes to parties to get “turnt up,” can totally understand this with a sad smile, knowing damn well that this type of thing happens all the time. But I chuckled to myself last night at that line Jones delivered.
“Your fucking daughter is going to be going out with us before you go out with us again. I tell you, this is some fucking bullshit.”
Needless to say, things get real clear with Jones behind the wheel.
They say certain sets are funny due to the way the comics make use of their presence. But not only visually if not confidence-wise. And Leslie Jones sure as hell makes sure nobody in that theatre sees anything less.
From the moment we see Jones hop on-stage, we see that she is dressed in a clever yet stylistically . In all black, save for silver necklace and other jewelery. She’s got a sort of suit-y type of top on and her spiked-up hair we come to see regularly on TV now. The eyes she wears pierce through your funny bone in a way that makes those comedic pauses seem all the more unbelievably funny. Jones has a knack of making the incredible credible as she uses the stage around her to the best of her abilities.
Which, judging by her sound effects and the swinging from her shower curtain’s pole, is electric. Boogie, oogie, oogie.
I recall that she was channelling her inner religion as she summonned one of the greatest uses of physical comedy I have ever dared seen. Predicting how the creation of orgasms came about, Jones pretended to be beginner and the ender. She made like “the one true creator,” God. As “God,” she woke and enjoying her unbelievably, wonderful nap—being on top of the World and whatnot, widened those piercing eyes I was mentioning earlier, at the breakfast that was so lovingly prepared for the universal master.
I just thought this was incredible for me to be able to watch being that I grew up in a strictly Roman-Catholic household, whom consistently saw God as this seriously proper likeness… And Jones? She just made her seem like any ordinary sucker in a day-to-day conquest to find out what makes sense in this life. Positive after peering at the bountiful feast before her, Jones the God became persistent to do some good in her day.
She had a platter of croissants waiting for consumption!
But what happenned next as God did her daily right turn for humanity really had me grinning ear-to-ear. God struck the World with an explosive punch, thus releasing from her fist the ability for people to have orgasms.
How did that look? Like a lightning bolt coming down hard on humanity. And not in a bad way… As a human being, Jones would almost appear as if dancing a screwy jig, eyes rolled back to her head like she was being put into the electric chair. If that is to be the case, Jones then froze like Frankenstein’s Monster as she THUNK’d to the floor in a sort of spastic, elastic shudder that contagiously would spread to the audience as their bellies roared with guffaws and “ha-has” at the silly sight of this comedian sprawling out on the floor, microphone loose and all, as if to show what it was like when her cherry was first popped.
Personally, I thought it was hilarious when she would jerk he head up occasionally to enjoy the drizzling of the orgasm out her imaginarily-leaking vagina. As if it were being filmed in slo-mo.
Time between these theatrical diversions from the typical still were in their own way, atypical. Just the manner that this fearless woman paced the stage made it seem like she was larger-than-life and more in charge of the audience’s vocal chords than Charles could ever be.
(Also, to make a strong note, she’s smart as a whip from having a towel and two water bottles nearby, so as to diffuse the sweat so quickly gleaming off her skin.)
Seeing how Leslie Jones improvise is slight but infectious. You can’t look away as you really almost want to just peer on further to see how much deeper she’s about to take you down. For the first three-quarters of her set, the improvisation comes from calls-to-action/responses from the audience as well as tags she adds at the end of her punchline’s impact, such as a spiteful comment about the Fanta girls that always popped out of the soda brand being racist when making the grape-flavor’s representative black.
What I find great is that while she interacts with the crowd, death-defyingly, she mocks them for their beauty or their fashion sense, their reason for being here, facial expressions or any other aspects a comic would work with, she stands by her spit and swallows it backing up a real good reason as to why she “offended” them in the first place.
Which never seemed like it really did any damage considering this was a positively jovial crowd.
Though, I believe we all know some somebodies who would take umbrage when she asked for a chant from the audience as a means to make a non-segued transition seamless.
“What’s up you lonely bitches‽”
She backs up her declaration of—dare I say—bitchitude, by providing solid evidence that if a “bitch” is hard on her man, pretty soon they will not only be the one firing shots through his fuckboy heart, but mourning their death at the succeeding funeral.
Literally, Jones has no fear as she even goes over to the security guard standing by and cradles his head with one hand, likely to be capable of adding on to her bit about showing how much she appreciates a man for giving her orgasms at least twice a week, to the point where if the man argued with Jones’ mother, she’d kick her mother out in an instant.
I smirked as I imagined that the security guard was in fact that man.
At the last eight minutes of her show, a mysterious sentence, more mystic than usual, slips through her teeth: “This is my favorite part of the show.”
I can’t help but think even this has to be tied in to a shout from a non-heckler: “Get ‘em Les!”
She descends from the stage and like a buzzingly busy bee, makes a beeline indeed for the motherload of sweet-as-honey material: crowd work.
Yes, Les. Get ‘em.
From a man wearing bohemian-style, islander-street clothes—possibly in posession of plantains and kush—to a woman with curly hair (and no hair-straighteners in sight,) Jones doesn’t leave anybody out of her sight.
Especially not forgetting those pretty, pretty bitches.
The inner comic nerd in me achieves something of a toothy gaze as Jones refusedly does NOT back or shy down from confronting several dames and grilling them with an all-important question that’s on everyone’s minds when meeting incomprable displays of beauty.
“Have you sucked any dick?”
Some women, to a shocked surrounding that Jones could hardly believe herself, it seems, reply “sometimes.” Others are in such a laughing fit before and after their interrogation, the only tether to sanity—not a very strong one, in my opinion, but I’m a toothpick with hair; I shouldn’t be talking—they possibly retain consciousness to are their boyfriends’ hands; “I bet that headband gets all the DirecTV channels.”
Whether she’s chilling amongst an unstoppable commotion or warning a row of women to not grab her buttocks if in fact they are lesbians, due to their prudent responses, Jones is hard to shake off. For what I would love to say was three minutes straight, Jones stood and craned her head mere inches away from a front-row lovely, entranced in joyfulness like a young niece being attacked by the tickle monster, while consistently asking the questions like an all-bad cop scenario.
She even hit heads to test how they would respond to a phallic object’s head hitting their own forehead. The straightest of faces came when encountering mini-situations like those and bewilderment from seeing a female Harry Potter with large detective-jacket buttons.
Leslie Jones, through irreverent and no holds barred humour, stays true to how bloodthirsty she is about correcting the inconsistencies and fill-in-the-blanks in relationships, society and friendly choices. Id est, according to her mother, that time when she swung off the shower pole and failed horribly, deserved a lower score than the ass-whooping she was about to deliver. Yet, revealing her weaknesses and area of where she can improve showed humanity and was imperative in making her instantly likeable in my biblical book of comic appreciation & inspiration—minus constipation I suffer whilst reading it on the toilet.
All that said, I am proud to have inserted her in my inaugural post regarding an analysis of stand-up specials.
Of course, I’m still trying to figure things out with this and myself in general so apologies if anything seems inconsistent. But I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now so I’m guessing I’ll probably stick through with this on some plane of consistency.
If you don’t have Netflix, I have a link to her stand-up special on Hulu here, where you can peep at it in its entirety. Also available for you to enjoy are some offerable clips, should something in particular pique your interest.
Also, this flipping of the bird in the picture above was meant for Oprah Winfrey, but I would love to re-dedicate that usage towards Milo Yiannopoulos (tech editor at Breitbart) who kept bashing Jones on Twitter until the hammer came down yesterday. He continuously harassed her by violating Twitter’s “hateful conduct policy” with persistent troll moves, even going as far as making a fake account to frame Jones. But Twitter rightfully deactivated his account—verification tag and all—in what hopefully will be a step in the right direction towards removing the infestation of the despicable #GamerGate controversy. (At least she’s got Dan Aykroyd on her side.)
But, seriously, Mister Yiannopoulos? You had it coming. Don’t bully people.
Problem Child: Leslie Jones © Copyright 2009 Salient Media, LLC