Review: Gary Owen, “I Got My Associates” on Showtime

At first glance, something seems amiss in Gary Owen: I Got My Associates.

It’s Owen’s third Showtime stand-up comedy special, but for some reason, whether it be the venue (The Stardome in Hoover, Ala.,) or the lighting and production values, this hour feels as much of an underground production and introduction to the Ohio-born comedian as if it were his first hour.

And in fact, Owen jokes about how even now, after several years in the game, movie credits (Think Like A Man, Think Like A Man Too) and a BET reality series (The Gary Owen Show), morning radio DJs still don’t believe his actual life history. He still has to explain that before comedy, he served in the military. Boot camp seemed easy to Owen, he jokes, because the officers gave you strict instructions to follow, almost as if they gave you the answers to all of their tests. His ninth-grade son, on the other hand, doesn’t come across to Owen as dumb so much as brutally naive in his honesty about cheating on tests.

The title of Owen’s third hour comes from a phrase he’d hear convicts say on TV at parole board meetings as an argument that they could find work upon release. “I got my associates!”

In a very real sense, Owen acts as if he has his associate’s degree in a world of show business where all of his friends and peers have their bachelor’s or even master’s degrees.

When he takes his wife to Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade’s wedding, he didn’t want to go, even though they were invited. “I knew I was going to be the brokest motherfucker at this wedding.” So he felt the need to apologize to his wife immediately after seeing and hear John Legend performing “All of Me” at the ceremony. In the men’s room, he stood at a urinal next to LeBron James and felt inferior. And walking into a conversation among friends talking private jets at the reception, Owen realized he was the only one who still flew commercial.

But don’t get Owen wrong.

He knows he’s got it pretty good, still. At least compared to some other comedians in the past couple of years, making light of both Bill Cosby and Steve Harvey.

And he’s happily married for more than 11 years now, even if he mistakenly asked his wife once to compare him to her previously black boyfriends.

Owen has felt drawn toward African-American culture and women since he hit puberty, and having mixed-race children allows him to joke not only about just how “mixed” his son and daughter may feel, depending upon their situation, as well as how there may be a handful of habits he wished black people did differently. “Hold on, it’s minor shit,” he clarifies, before illustrating just minor his complaints may be.

Because in the end, he just wants to keep his wife sexually interested in him. Always has. Always will. And he’ll sing a customized song and whip up a catchphrase in the hopes you come back calling for more.

Testimonials filmed outside over the credits from fans prove he has facilitated just that.

A post-credit plea, meanwhile, dedicates this hour to his “baby bro” Dallas Randall, who died from drugs in 2015, with Owen in a voice-over urging those struggling with addiction to call 1-800-662-4357 (the national helpline for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association).

Gary Owen: I Got My Associates premiered Sept. 8, 2017, on Showtime and is available On Demand and on Showtime Anytime.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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