Leo Reich: Literally Who Cares?! (2023)

Leo Reich: Literally Who Cares?! (2023)

An impressively self-aware — and blessedly not finger-wagging — comedy special about Gen Z from A24

7.7

Movie

United States of America
English
Comedy
2023
THOMAS HARDIMAN
Leo Reich
65 min

TLDR

A refreshing antidote to painful boomer comedy about Gen Z.

What it's about

A filmed performance of comedian Leo Reich’s generation-satirizing part-stand-up special, part-musical following its off-Broadway run.

The take

Generation-centric comedy is often of the “kids these days” variety — in which comedians make uninspired jibes about the youth of today while spectacularly lacking self-awareness of their own — but twenty-something stand-up Leo Reich thankfully upends that trend with his self-lampooning debut show. Reich takes a risk by unabashedly casting himself as a self-absorbed nepo baby in the opening — narcissism as a bit can become grating pretty quickly — but his perceptive abilities and readiness to both embody and commentate on Gen Z stereotypes are the saviors of this hour-long comedy special.

Stand-up isn’t the only medium he makes use of: the show is also part-musical, as Reich belts out wry musings on the contradictions of his generation — at once self-loathing but tending towards narcissism, cripplingly self-aware but no more enlightened for it — at intervals throughout. If there’s anything to lament here, it’s that Reich’s main character syndrome is so effectively paired with the doom-and-gloom context he paints (as he puts it, he’s spent way too much of his youth Googling "death toll") that the show’s aftertaste is a little too bitter — but then again, nihilism is another characteristic typically associated with zoomers, so you could argue this is simply supreme commitment to the bit.

What stands out

Missing from the many compliments Reich pays himself throughout the show — he describes anyone who doesn’t find him attractive as having “radically non-traditional desires” — is that he’s a very talented satirist. Cutting observations about the social media generation’s performative tendencies are enriched by his own embrace of the act, while the flippancy of the show’s title is belied by the attention he evidently does pay to the world around him. Though the special is ultimately a little limited by Reich's undying aversion to earnestness (again, apt for the subject), it does mark the very impressive debut of a future star.

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