I might not be the biggest fan of Andrew Santino or his character on Showtime’s new series I’m Dying Up Here, but at least his beard is real now and now, compared to whatever he sported a few years ago on ABC’s short-lived Mixology.
And as he explains in his first hour special, also on Showtime, I might be predisposed against him as a red-head. Or so he jokes in Home Field Advantage, recorded at the Vic in his hometown of Chicago, where his grandmother introduces him onstage. Santino also had a buddy draw him the most Chicago illustration he could as a backdrop, a giant bear wearing Air Jordans in a recliner eating deep dish pizza, while a little bear wears a Blackhawks headdress.
His hour-plus opens and closes with a couple of minutes of travel show parody as Santino guides us around the Windy City.
Onstage, though, he remains fiercely proud of his hometown, even if he makes light of its racist tendencies or his family’s own Catholic beliefs. He’ll do the same of his current residence, West Hollywood, Calif., joking about how his beard draws more attention from gay men, and lighting up at the prospect of a gay man trying to attack him on the sidewalk, acting it out in full flamboyant stereotype.
Santino feels bad for the homeless in Chicago, because the weather can kill them in winter or summer, but feels disdain for the homeless in Los Angeles because they’ve “made it to the promised land” and can live on the beach. If some of his material seems slightly behind the times, he also takes some more progressive positions, when it comes to gender-neutral bathrooms or to loving black culture. To the former, he supposes that it doesn’t matter who uses the bathroom after he does and suggests removing the stalls from all men’s rooms in bars, “because they shouldn’t be there in the first place.” He asks: “Who the fuck is pooping at the bar?!”
Looking back on his Catholic upbringing, he realizes now how psychologically upsetting the prayers were that he learned to say aloud at bedtime, and that the person who invented door locks for rooms inside the house just needed some privacy to play with himself.
Aside from the debate over legislating gender-neutral bathrooms, though, Santino refrains from getting into the political weeds, telling us he doesn’t want to talk about what’s going on. His relatives include multiple police officers. But that’s beside the point. “We need to be better people in general across the board,” Santino says.
His bit about the difference between men’s and women’s anatomy isn’t treading any new ground comedically, although he does take more than a minute to imagine how cavemen ever convinced cavewomen into having sex with them.
Santino himself married in the past year, and decided against a bachelor party because, he figured, working as a stand-up comedian pretty much resembles a weekly bachelor party anyhow.
But the destination wedding and honeymoon included a lot of “doing white people shit.”
Which is a far cry from his high-school years, when black students befriended him while outsiders called him a wigger. Santino didn’t mind that. Macklemore’s appropriation of rap, on the other hand…the comedian doesn’t think that should fly anywhere.