Dead Ant

Review: Kenny Sebastian’s ‘Don’t Be That Guy’ Has A Bunch of Great Bits

By Ravina Rawal 21 October 2018

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Amazon Prime Video | 55 min | Released: March 2017

The end credits of Don’t Be That Guy include “YouTube, for existing” because how else would 26-year-old Kenneth (Kenny) Sebastian—who was doing acoustic guitar covers on YouTube till five years ago— already be on his fifth comedy special?

One of the leading names in Indian standup comedy today, Sebastian’s popularity boomed from small rooms in Bangalore to giant auditoriums across India and abroad. His young, dedicated fanbase loves him for being “relatable AF”, and not relying on swear words to drag a lazy joke across the finish line. He’s behind some of Indian comedy’s tightest bits about mothers, dosas, and bucket baths—jokes we didn’t know we needed, until we did.

Among the first to debut on Amazon Prime Video as part of their initial batch of 14 homegrown comedy specials in 2017 (a selection that was promptly slammed for only having men on the list), Sebastian’s special was one of the most awaited by fans.

His young, dedicated fanbase loves him for being “relatable AF”, and not relying on swear words to drag a lazy joke across the finish line.

In DBTG, he lays a whole new smackdown on why he’s done being the nice guy, and getting older—staying relatable (AF) for his target audience of 20-somethings, living on their own, trying to make it out of life’s most elastic decade in one piece.

While the foundation itself holds, however, it starts off slow. Considering his fresh insights on the alarming experience of suddenly growing older are begging for a more torrid rant, it leaves one wishing he’d explored his premises more thoroughly, and worked for harder punches. But just as you think he’s going to lose you to Amazon’s Main Menu, he shifts gear.

It’s time to talk about Goa holidays. So of course you brace yourself for the tried and tested trope of how a plan never really works out. But he sees your expectation and he raises you… a story from a plan that did. He moves into a quick sketch, complete with voice modulations, wonky facial expressions, and a bunch of accents that are terrible but delivered with such sincerity and self-awareness you can’t help but laugh. To wit, holy shit, a Goa joke that works? 50 points.

Here’s a Goa story actually worth listening to.

“Can I do some music for you guys?” he asks as he pulls his guitar in, knowing full well that people have paid to watch him do as he damn well pleases.

Musical comedy is a hard nut to crack. While it allows performers to experiment with concepts, not everyone has the tenacity of Flight of the Conchords, who themselves are very hit and miss; ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic takes so much getting used to that it’s not worth the sunk cost of your energy and time; and Australian comedian Tim Minchin usually has an entire fucking opera, so that’s a whole other kind of spectacle. But Sebastian is a surprisingly capable musician. He also interrupts his own tunes to do a little crowd work before elegantly shitting on indie love songs and their creators—the combination makes this segment not just painless, but thoroughly enjoyable. His meta bit on guitar players, for example, is flat out hilarious:

Sebastian on how guitars make everything better, and tabla players don’t get any respect.

On the whole, DBTG has a bunch of strong premises that with enough polishing could have been roaring bits, but they fall just short. Still, while it’s not the tightest hour, Sebastian himself is so endearing throughout that you forgive him for the bits that dip.

Will you jump off your couch to give him a standing ovation in your boxers? Probably not. But does it make for a pleasant enough evening of Amazon Prime & Chill, Bro? Sure.

Dead Ant review policy: 1) We pay for shows that we review. 2) When we review live shows of any kind, we might mention subjects that are dealt with, but will avoid more detailed discussion of premises or jokes. 3) When we review or discuss YouTube videos and OTT specials, since they are already accessible across locations, we may get into more details discussions of the material. These reviews aim to foster closer conversations about comedy, and hence are for people who have already watched the videos, or don’t mind knowing details of it beforehand.

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