Adam Devine’s first Netflix special is a like an audition reel for future employment.
It doesn’t necessarily embrace the tenets of stand-up comedy, but it does give fans a chance to see much of what he can do.
Filmed at Omaha’s Orpheum Theater (Omaha’s his home town), “Adam Devine: Best Time of Our Lives” lets him demonstrate just how good he is at physical comedy and impressions. He bounces around the stage like a Disney character and isn’t afraid to look stupid if the result is a gale of laughter.
Devine gets the laughs but sometimes (as in a bit about being deaf) he goes too far. He expects the audience to know his resume and frequently plays to the “Workaholics” crowd.
Where he grabs new fans is in the telling of his own story – the one that started in Omaha. There, he says, he was fascinated by magic and longed to wear a cape. His father didn’t exactly embrace the choice but didn’t thwart him, either.
Devine compares “little kid-level” excitement to adult-level excitement and isn’t afraid to talk about those oh-so-tenuous middle school years when a gust of wind could get him excited. Devine doesn’t hold back on the descriptions (yup, he uses the words and body parts you might not want your own kids to hear) and details his 21st birthday – the “scariest day of my life.” Friends decided he needed 21 shots in 21 minutes and he didn’t resist.
While the routines take a circuitous route to the end (it all does wrap up in a fun way), a bit of editing could have been in order.
Devine, an extremely likeable guy, drops in references to his guest appearances on “Modern Family” (did everyone see those?) and talks about getting a role in “Pitch Perfect,” one of his first big films. He was under the impression it was about baseball, so his prep was different than what casting directors were expecting.
The competition was tough, too: “Everyone’s a better looking version of you.” Devine runs through the inappropriate songs he hastily offered during the singing portion. (And, yes, he got the job.)
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Repeatedly, the rubbery Devine isn’t afraid to make fun of himself. He assumes some audience members misread the poster and thought they were getting Adam Levine. “He looks like he gained 40 pounds and lost 11 inches.”
Briefly dabbling in the world of celebrity, he gets a great response when he talks about the first time someone recognized him. To fully appreciate it, you need to know his role and catchphrases in “Workaholics,” the cable series that gave him a Hollywood profile.
The 35-year-old works doggedly at winning over the hometown crowd and isn’t afraid to make a reference or two they’ll embrace.
“Time for Omaha to get some beachfront property,” he says of global warming.
A recurring bit about “Chad and Derek” flounders and a foray into the lives of pre-teen girls longs for an ending.
But Devine is built to please. He does a great T Rex impression and has the chops to play just about any role.
He does fine as a standup, but his real strength is in bringing characters – good, bad or indifferent – to unforgettable life.
“Best Time of Our Lives” is merely a preview of coming attractions.
“Adam Devine: Best Time of Our Lives” begins streaming Tuesday on Netflix.