- Movie Rating -

Sam Jay: 3 in the Morning (2020)

| August 4, 2020

Sam Jay lets you know right up front who she is.  She isn’t afraid of her own identity, her opinion and certainly her frustration at a world in which common sense is drying up and blowing away in the wind.  She’s young, black, gay, self-effacing and sees things as they are.  She opens her first stand-up special by talking about the frustration of living with her girlfriend.  Going to the airport, she wonders why her partner is carrying three bags when she only has two arms.  “She forgets that I have no chivalry – I’m not a man” and then reasons to her struggle: “Carry less bags.”

The cold reality of Sam Jay’s outlook on her personal life and on the world is at the center of her first stand-up comedy special Sam Jay: 3 in the Morning.  She’s a former writer for SNL (she wrote “Black Jeopardy) and you can see that her comedy muscles need a lot of room to stretch, but she is careful how far she stretches them.  Her gift is to turn her stand-up routine into an evolving process.  Most comedians use this format as a joke machine, but Jay is smarter than that.  She’d rather observe than dig at the easy laughs.

The thing that separates this stand-up special from the pack is that she has obviously structured it with the audience in mind.  There are a lot of troubling issues to get through – Trump, Corona, Me-Too – but Jay apparently knows that if she jumps into that pool right away, then she’s likely to lose us.  So her stand-up opens with a lot of material that seems designed to let the audience decide whether they want to hang around.  She opens boldly with a bit about her life before coming out – specifically an alarming, and apparently regrettable, history with fellatio.  Then she moves into her frustrating but never-the-less endearing relationship with her partner.

The opening is to gets us warmed up because as the hour moves on, she gets into a lot of comedy that comes from things that she seems to have been bottled up.  She takes liberals to task for trying to reason that the country is better than our current President.  Jay reasons “Not we’re not!  If we were, he wouldn’t be the President.  She compares Trump to a hood rat.   “First time we ever had a whole ni**** in The White House and that ni**** is white!  That’s gotta mean somethin’”

There’s a message here and Sam Jay is trying to impart common sense to a world that is falling apart.  The special was filmed at a small club in Atlanta, Georgia and director Kristian Mercado makes use of a good deal of close-ups that let us see into her eyes.  In them we see the same weariness and confusion that we are all experiencing right now.

I admired Sam Jay’s stand-up special more than thought that I would.  She’s up-front and openly foul mouthed – she uses a pervasive and uniquely interwoven use of the N-word that reminded me a lot of Richard Pryor.  I smiled more than I laughed but I sensed that there was something else on her mind other than just dispensing with the laughs. 

Streaming now on Netflix

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2020) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized