Fred Armisen’s Standup For Drummers is the personification of your hometown “DRUMMERS IN THE [Area code]” Facebook Group without all the ads for local gigs or bands in need of a gig. Armisen isn’t particularly funny; it seems like his only knowledge of standup comedy comes from movies and TV. He isn’t really interesting either. It’s full of in-jokes that can’t really provoke laughter. The boneheaded drummer who’s unintentionally funny is one of the easiest tropes, but Fred Armisen is a hyper intelligent musician who can’t come up with a decent joke.
Armisen is a great slapstick comic. His physical humor is fantastic, but it’s so reserved here that there’s not really any laughs to be had. The sillier moments, like an accent tour of the United States are dull and uninspired. Armisen’s jokes are the types you’d find in a half-baked listicle from Alt-Press. The jokes about ripping other local bands, soundchecks, and flying on tour are like extended memes, and they’re boring. They’re only funny if you’ve been in a band, but if you’ve been in a band, you’ve heard them all before. Armisen does have some original ideas like the octo-kick pedal or the moment when doo-wop was the heaviest music in the world, but none of them are really as funny as they could be. What’s worse is Armisen doesn’t even seem like he wants to be telling jokes. This seemed like a chance for him to show off his musical chops.
While this comedy special lacks humor, Armisen is a percussive virtuoso. He shows off a bunch of knowledge throughout the special. He’s like one of us music nerd know-it-alls, and it’s really entertaining to see him actually play. When Armisen makes jokes about drummers, it’s annoying, but when he walks through the aisle to show the audience “Drum Kits through the Ages,” it’s mesmerizing. There’s more applause than there is laughter. Armisen drops all these tidbits of knowledge like the way Paul McCartney plays drums, and it’s really impressive how good he is at imitating all these drummers. It’s no surprise that he was able to get incredibly popular drummers to participate in his special, seeing that he loves the instrument as much as they do.
All standup comedy is masturbatory. Every comedian goes onstage and talks about things, because it makes them feel better. The best comics get a rush out of the appreciation of a crowd. That being said, this is especially masturbatory, because Armisen really just wanted a chance to show off his musical ability. There’s not many laughs to be had, but the guy can jam.