Chris D’Elia’s New Special ‘No Pain’ is More of the Same

Published on April 16, 2020

For years, I’ve been trying to connect with Chris D’Elia’s comedy. Without question, he has a way of connecting with crowds, he is a showman, and he knows how to work a crowd and ride that wave with him. In my experience at comedy clubs, he kills every time. People go wild for his voices and grand physical gestures, but what else is there? What’s new? 

Chris D’Elia: No Pain

For the last few years, Netflix has been the home to D’Elia’s popular one-hour specials. They released his last three specials. Right now, the comic’s latest special, “Chris D’Elia: No Pain,” is one of the most popular options on Netflix today.

The special feels like more of the same from D’Elia. He’s not a comedian who grows and evolves a whole lot. People love what he does, so it’s understandable. He doesn’t need to change up his style, of course, but as D’Elia grows older and more experienced, where’s the growth and substance?

Bells and Whistles 

That doesn’t mean Chris D’Elia has to come on stage and talk politics or get real about himself. That’s not his style as a comedian. There’s a lack of self-seriousness about D’Elia. Sometimes throughout his hour-long sets, the material can play as bells and whistles clouding a lack of substance and originality, though. 

How many times do we need to hear a comedian comment on “outrage culture” affecting the current state of comedy? It’s a subject in comedy that’s been beaten to death by even some of the best of comedians. It’s possibly the least funny and interesting subject in comedy right now. Just tell the jokes, go all the way. Why sing to the choir — your audience.

D’Elia goes down that route himself. D’Elia is a confident performer and it’s a skill of his, but whenever comedians such as himself bring up that obvious, repetitive subject of people’s sensitivity to jokes, it comes off as insecure. Why is it still surprising to high-profile comics not everybody is going to enjoy their jokes? Usually, they’re getting paid a lot for those jokes, so it doesn’t really appear to be that difficult of time for big comedians to tell their darker material.

The hour relies almost entirely on D’Elia’s physical gestures and voices, which always score big laughs, but there’s not much craftsmanship to enjoy. On Netflix, which has a sea of specials from comedians with both charisma and substance, that doesn’t cut it. The stories aren’t tight at all, either. The pace is fast but the stories are typically overlong.

Speed and Not Much Else

Chris D’Elia’s comedy seemingly connects with a younger generation. It’s not surprising, considering the comic’s pacing is practically tailor-made for Millenials. It’s almost all speed. ADHD comedy is just not that satisfying when there are countless comedians who move at a breakneck pace and can tell jokes of substance and nuance. 

Even the editing in “No Pain” just doesn’t stop. The hour is cut to death. It doesn’t ebb and flow right. Nonetheless, the special is doing the trick for people right now. People need the laughs, and D’Elia is providing them, at least to his own fans.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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