Iliza Shlesinger: Confirmed Kills full movie review - Complicated but Funny Comedy by an Amazing Performer
I have watched Iliza since she won Last Comic Standing in 2011. She's grown tremendously since then. She's polished her delivery, expanded her material, hardened her body, perfected her voices.
Her performance in this show is intense, rapid fire and wonderful and impressive in many, many ways. The material is at once tight and wide-ranging, aimed at your gut and at your head (not much at your heart), great physical, vocal and intellectual stuff going on. And I think that's why the 3 reviewers before me gave bad reviews. There's kind of too much going on.
I'm very fond of Kathleen Madigan and I think I can best explain my thoughts by making a comparison. Madigan's humor seems fairly low-brow at first glance. Her persona is a sloppy drunk floozy, not terribly bright, but her humor is slyly much smarter than it appears. Madigan doesn't want you to necessarily think well of her as a person, she wants you to enjoy the material and unconsciously be subverted by her almost subliminal messages. Iliza, on the other hand, wants you to be impressed by her -- by her material, by her mind, by her body, by her politics, by her comedic abilities, by her command of her instrument. Her messages, and there's a lot of them, are not subliminal, they're stridently overt. Her biggest message, however, is that she wants you to be impressed by her brilliance. And guess what, she actually is brilliant, but there are many points where she eases off the momentum of the comedy for the purpose of showcasing that brilliance.
Iliza's comedy is cooking on multiple levels at all times. There's the text, the subtext, the messages, the metatext, her running commentary on her own performance plus all the schtick. It can be exhausting at times and at it's worst, some layers undercut or negate what's happening in other layers. For example, if your text is pointing out how silly and self-defeating it is that women are always trying to impress men and garner their attention and your sub-text is trying to do exactly that, there's a friction going on between those layers that. She even refers to her performance as a stealth TED talk at one point and that was exactly what I had been thing for the last few minutes.
It's super-high energy, non-stop. Her approach to this show is like an Olympic athlete. There's a lot of posturing and preening and some of the postures get repetitive and it can be distracting and confusing when she uses a posture you've seen before to a very different purpose.
As I said at the beginning, I was very impressed by her and her growth. I wish she could get Elaine May to help her with her next show and help her use her brilliance to bolster the comedy and not the other way around.