Surrender to Calm

In "Joe Pera and the Surprising Pleasures of Gentle Humor" New York Times reviewer Jason Zinoman describes a standup comic whose "... goal is not to take audiences out of the action by laughing at it, but to envelop them in a muted version of reality, to invite them to surrender to the small pleasures of calm."

It's about tranquility and kindness. "Waiting for someone is just a nice thing to do," says Joe Pera, and, "I can't be the only one who wants to watch Old Tjikko, a 9,000-year-old spruce, after reading the news." Shades of Mister Rogers! Zinoman concludes:

By slowing down and reducing everything to simple comforts, Pera can tap into a child's view of the world, back when we dealt with boredom most creatively by creating races between rain drops on windshields or finding shapes in clouds.

Many of his shows linger so reverentially on everyday things – the supermarket, a song by the Who – that they seem almost spiritual. Other times he appears to push the concept of banal normal life so far as to find the comic weirdness within. At one point in the first episode, an old stranger drives by him, stops and asks for Pera's phone. The man takes a photo of himself and hands the phone back to Pera. It's an odd moment that in a different show could make for cringe comedy, but here, this random gesture comes off as vaguely generous and inexplicable. I chuckled. You might not. But it's best not to think about it too much.

Sounds like prayer, or Zen.

Less looking
      More seeing
Less doing
      More being

(cf "Joe Pera Talks with You", a TV series of short bits, and This Is Water (2009-05-21), Present in Every Moment (2019-11-25), 143 (2019-11-28), Love Abounds (2020-01-06), Mantra - Greater Love (2020-02-21), The World According to Mister Rogers (2020-03-13), ...) - ^z - 2021-12-09