Review: Chris D’Elia, “No Pain” on Netflix

I don’t know why Netflix keeps giving Chris D’Elia stand-up comedy specials, when his talents aren’t stand-up related.

And I certainly don’t know why this bit is highlighted in the trailer, because it wasn’t great then and aged so poorly so quickly.

As I wrote even in April:

D’Elia, who turned 40 in March, jokes about only now realizing his white male privilege, and yet he withholds some of his privileged advantages from the audience. Advantages he could just as easily mock himself while providing deeper revelations. He’ll tell us he came from a loving family. The whole truth is that he grew up the son of Bill D’Elia, a longtime TV producer whose EP credits going back to Chicago Hope in the 1990s, Ally McBeal, Boston Legal and more in the 2000s, and more recently How To Get Away With Murder. Chris booked a role on Chicago Hope in 1996 as a teenager, and later appeared on Boston Legal.

So yeah, he enjoyed a relatively easy entry into show business. Much easier than you, probably, sitting there wondering if you’re allowed to be offended at him or his jokes.

Nevertheless, D’Elia wants to weigh in on cancel culture, too. His offering? “Look, you can get mad at somebody for saying something, but you can’t tell ‘em not to say it. ‘Cause then, if you’re not careful, the stuff that we can say becomes more and more narrow, and then pretty soon, before you know it, if you’re not careful, you end up going to see a comedian, he’ll just be doing sounds or some shit.” Which, of course, he has bookended with bits involving cartoonish voices, arched eyebrows and an impersonation of a starfish as a police detective. Consider him slightly self-aware.

And yet.

D’Elia also tries to have it both ways, arguing that comedians are always just joking and that’s what audiences pay them to do, while also using an example that’s all premise and no joke. Instead, he lets the premise hang in the air (do black people take too long to cross a crosswalk?) long enough for the audience to tense up until they laugh. He tags said “joke” by asking: “Can you get cancelled because of a face you make?”

He might just find out, in the wake of damning allegations several young women have made against him in June about his predatory behavior toward them.

Read my full review of his stand-up on

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.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →