Review: Lil Rel Howery, “Live In Crenshaw” on HBO

I love that Lil Rel chose to shoot his HBO comedy special in a school gymnasium in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles, as the sun set through the open windows.

He spends the bulk of his set talking about how his relative fame has impacted his relationships with his relatives. As I wrote in Decider when his special debuted last year:

Lil Rel finds comedy gems out of each nugget in the story of how his uncle’s funeral played out, from the initial family sit-down (and who gets to sit down in that meeting), to how they called him to break the news, to individual moments during the service (the cousin who cannot read very well, the guy who tries to sing all of the parts of a hymn, the preacher forced to deliver a eulogy for a man he doesn’t know at all) that has the audience members in Crenshaw leaping out of their seats delivering hallelujahs of their own. “Ooooh, that was worth $6,000,” Howery jokes. But wait. There’s more to the story. We follow him and his grandmother and the casket to his uncle’s final resting place.And that trip provides memorable tangents, too. Thanks, Greyhound.

As Howery jokes, musical acts these days may not put on concerts like they used to. But watching Howery re-enact The Whispers “Rock Steady,” or Bone Thugs-n-Harmony without the harmony, or Tito Jackson without his brothers, is a performance in itself. “I’m just trying to do right by black people,” Howery says much earlier in the hour.

He’s fulfilling his promise.

Read my full review 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.

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