On Wednesday, April 13, Netflix released its new comedy special titled “Celeste Barber: Fine, Thanks.” The one-hour special features Australian comedian Celeste Barber and was filmed in Sydney, Australia with a live audience shortly after the lockdown. Though not as popular in the United States, Barber has had a fruitful career in Australia and abroad, which no doubt helped her secure such a significant role. Energetic and charming, I found myself laughing quite a few times throughout the special.
One of the most challenging aspects of reviewing comedy is that it is subjective. What I may find funny, you may not, and vice versa. However, there are times when everyone finds something to be unfunny, such as when my friends and I decided to watch an Amy Schumer special during the pandemic. But Celeste Barber is neither awkward nor annoying like Amy Schumer. With her smarmy Australian accent, I found myself laughing more at the pronunciation of words than the actual subject matter. While some may find that childish, I believe there is a special charm to the energy she brings to her performances.
Her discussions about pandemic life, marriage and general adulthood may be a little lost on someone in their early twenties. Most of us don’t have kids or spouses, so a lot of the material is more suitable for older audiences. However, just because it’s not relatable doesn’t mean there weren’t moments that struck a chord with me. Her stories about older siblings lying and messing with you are relatable to many younger siblings. Mentions of a fake sibling or getting injured and hearing the coveted words “don’t tell mom” were all things I found relatable. But relatable things aren’t what makes comedy funny; it’s how it’s presented.
One of the biggest things that makes Celeste Barber funny is how energetic she is. She sticks her tongue out, jumps, screams, and rolls across the stage, performing a wide array of acrobatics just to get her point across. Some comedians stand still and wave a microphone around or pace back and forth, but Barber breaks out into full sprints on occasion. She’s more than just a comedian; she’s a performance artist.
Her eccentric yet awkward style of comedy makes me energetic just looking at her. She’s like the awkward kid in class who’s not great at presentations, but when you talk to them one-on-one at the back of the class, they always have something interesting to say. Her anecdotes about life are relatable, but sometimes I found myself just watching her movements rather than listening to her words. She’s a ball of energy sliding across the stage in a way that’s hard to describe unless you’ve seen it with your own two eyes.
While the jokes themselves didn’t often make me laugh, the performance was outstanding. If you’re a fan of colorful comedy with lots of movement and weird facial expressions, Celeste Barber can scratch that itch for you. But if you prefer far more deadpan humor, you might want to skip out on this one.