This review for the Netflix comedy special Cristela Alonzo: Middle Classy contains no spoilers.
Netflix has been ramping up its original stand-up content rapidly over the past few years and while the pandemic may have slowed things down slightly, this year it’s come back stronger than ever. The streaming giants now release one or more comedy specials a week, saturating the market with a slew of specials featuring some of the best comedians in the world. This is great news for all comedy fans, but inevitably there will be hits and plenty of misses. Cristela Alonzo: middle class falls somewhere in the middle, an average if enjoyable hour of stand-up.
The Texas comedian, who made history with her own prime-time sitcom titled Crystal, was the first Latina woman to create, produce, write and star in her own American series. In her final special, Cristela Alonzo commands the stage from the start, with her likeable and captivating performance style. She paces the stage, expressive and engaging, even dancing at one point. His material may not be funny, but he projects it well, delivering a lively and charming number.
Cristela Alonzo focuses on observational satire, discussing a wide variety of topics, from the COVID-19 pandemic to her upbringing, health issues and newfound wealth. Most of these topics are obvious talking points that cover well-trodden ground, adding nothing new or groundbreaking to the genre. She does, however, bring her own insight to these predictable subjects. With some humorous take on racism and stereotypes, plus a story about the first visit to the gynecologist, which could be the highlight of the hour-long special.
By keeping things painfully personal, there is room for reflection. Cristela Alonzo is open about her rags-to-riches story. Beginning in a poor neighborhood that borders Mexico, she talks about her modest living conditions, her independent learning of English, and her direct experiences with racism when she left for college. She speaks candidly about this changing landscape and the accomplishments that only come with hindsight and growth. Her opinions on this delicate subject and her own aging body are both insightful and witty. She uses pathos and relativity to navigate this difficult terrain, but always tries to keep it light and fun.
All in all, this comedy special is timely if somewhat tame in its simplicity. The humor can be forgettable and dull at times, but when Cristela Alonzo gets intimate and opens up with her own personal stories, the comedienne really shines. It’s not a laugh riot, but a thought-provoking and enjoyable hour, exploring a slice of the comedian’s unique life.
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You can watch this special with a Netflix subscription.
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