German comedian Felix Lobrecht recently experienced a huge boost in his career. With a popular podcast, a published novel, and a handful of awards in comedy, Lobrecht has aptly named his first Netflix special Hype. The show revolves around Lobrecht’s attempt to navigate an increasingly progressive Berlin, his early 30s, and his own sudden rise to “small-scale fame.”
In a time of activism and polarization, Lobrecht is a traditional man who enjoys criticizing political correctness. In the special, Lobrecht presents himself as the kind of man who would make an offensive comment and brush off any backlash with the phrase, “it was just a joke.” In other words, the special will fail to appeal to any audience that cares even remotely about political correctness.
Lobrecht’s conservatism cannot be chalked up to cultural difference because Lobrecht himself actually admits to it. “I am too conventional for it,” he remarks about the changing landscape of modern Berlin. Lobrecht acknowledges his own traditionalism in statements like: “In my ignorant, heterosexual imagination, it is quite awesome to be bi.”
Though it’s appreciable that Lobrecht knows he’s not the most progressive person in the room, it’s also difficult to deal with his more insensitive jokes, such as his complaints about people with disabilities accessing reserved parking spots. Rather than subtle wit or dry comments, Lobrecht’s comedy relies more on shock value and dark humor.
Hype also suffers from long, extended jokes. The show’s pacing gives off the impression that Lobrecht did not have enough material to fill an hour, so he stretched out the jokes he had in order to avoid having to create new material. Another downside of Lobrecht’s reliance on dark humor is that his jokes do not have any performative build-up.
Since he relies on the style of making sudden, horrific statements to incite a reaction from the crowd, the actual substance of his humor is not enough to build the exciting, where-are-they-going-with-this feeling that a lot of great comedians engender. Since Lobrecht’s jokes are not particularly topical nor exciting, the entire special does not feel worth the watch.
The strangely poignant aspect of Lobrecht’s special is that he bases it on his own temporary time in the spotlight. Lobrecht acknowledges how hype can skyrocket and die down within two seconds—and how a quote taken out of context can ruin someone’s career. Unfortunately, this does nothing to stop him from making a slew of jokes that could, when taken out of context, be excellent cannon fodder for cancel culture. While it’s admirable that Lobrecht stays true to himself, that self is not particularly respectful or witty.
Hype largely lacks the sophistication of other comedy specials, because Lobrecht fails to make his jokes come full circle. Almost every joke is singular and occurs only once, with few connecting threads between them. Other comedians often craft their final jokes into a significant reference to a previous quip they made and have been building up to.
Instead, Lobrecht decides to put some heart into the ending, discussing his own experiences with fame. While this choice is endearing and humanizing, it is not enough to save the show from Lobrecht’s general insensitivity. It also makes for a somewhat anticlimactic ending to a dark humor special.
Lobrecht’s humor falls flat, as he simply indulges too much in “dark humor”—a new genre comedians seem to be using in order to justify rude jokes. Hype might briefly amuse some viewers who enjoy offensive humor, but otherwise, the comedy special fails to captivate, or even entertain other audiences.
Featured image courtesy of Netflix