Netflix Hopes We’re Still Excited About Ray Romano

You loved the comedian in ‘The Big Sick,’ but will you like his return to stand-up?

In its bid to own every style and genre of entertainment, Netflix has become a one-stop shop for stand-up specials. A week doesn’t go by without the announcement of Chris Rock’s return or Dave Chappelle’s return or Dave Chappelle’s return return. If you have no interest in that particular format, scrolling through their infinite stand-up specials makes selecting a New Release film actually challenging. There doesn’t appear to be any stopping this particular train, and the latest comedian to hit the streaming service in an attempt to reclaim past glory is Ray Romano.

Except the Everybody Loves Raymond star never really went away. He may no longer be on your boob tube every Monday night, but his particular brand of craggy good charm dominated the misanthropic cast of both the Ice Age movie franchise and the TV series Men of a Certain Age. He’s currently riding high in our hearts, though, after his turn as Kumail Nanjiani’s future father-in-law in The Big Sick.

His role as Terry, the struggling husband desperate to keep his marriage together while his daughter suffers under a medically induced coma, was a great slap across the sleeping giant that is the mainstream public. Remember me! We took notice, and it’s time for Romano to take advantage. There is no better place than Netflix for such a countermove.

The details on the comedy special are slim, and the taping and release dates are still unknown. The real amazement here is that this show will be Romano’s first ever recorded hour-long comedy special. He made his bones in comedy clubs and eventually grabbed national attention as a frequent guest on The Late Show with David Letterman. His appearances there led to a partnership with Letterman that ultimately produced the sitcom sensation Everybody Loves Raymond. And yet, no Comedy Central or HBO specials? Weird. Time to correct that travesty.

Speaking to W magazine, Romano once referred to stand-up comedy as a good game of golf:

“I got the bug the first time I went on because I did well. And that’s how they get you. It’s kind of like golf where you suck forever, but you hit one good shot and that’s what makes you come back.”

Romano still has the fever. He’s pretty much conquered every format in the industry, but it’s time for him to return home to the sickness that got him started. If you’re going to bother putting a routine together, there really is no other option than Netflix these days.

Just look at Judd Apatow’s recent Netflix stab at the medium. The Big Sick producer was another former comedian that fled the scene after finding critical and financial success behind the scenes, only to return to prove his worth. Once the bug bites you, it’s hard to shake off the poison.

The Netflix algorithm will certainly put Romano in your crosshairs, and based on the intense reactions following Dave Chappelle’s return to the stage, we’re all watching the platform pretty closely. Here is a moment for Romano to recapture mainstream attention while excelling in the art form that put us on notice in the first place.

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Brad Gullickson :Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, co-host of the In The Mouth of Dorkness Podcast.