REVIEW: ‘Yearly Departed’ Caps Off 2020

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Yearly Departed

Yearly Departed is a 45-minute comedy special on Amazon Prime wherein some of America’s funniest women get the last word on the disaster of a year that was 2020. Hosted by Phoebe Robins, Rachel Brosnahan, Ziwe Fumudoh, Tiffany Haddish, Patti Harrison, Natasha Leggero, Natasha Rothwell, and Sarah Silverman take turns giving eulogies for the things we lost as a nation this past year.

There’s a lot of pandemic content at this point, but Yearly Departed is certainly a worthy last laugh of the year as it hilariously roasts the pieces of American culture lost to social distancing and uprising alike. Ranging from Ziwe’s witty takedown of the death of the beige Band-Aid to Tiffany Haddish’s mourning the loss of casual sex, each monologue is hilarious and utterly on-point. Some of the topics are ridiculous, but all of them are politically and culturally astute. Any viewer will find solace in the shared loss of each comedian’s choosing, whether directly or indirectly.

There is a stark tension though among 2020’s funeral’s guests, even if not intentional. The cast is comprised solely of white and Black comedians with no other comedians of color in attendance. I assumed several times over, especially during some of the topics lamented by the Black comedians that were particularly personal to Black people in 2020, that a part of the comedy would come from making fun of the white women in the room. And while it would be absolutely fair to have gone in that direction given the copious ammunition against white people, I’m glad that was not Yearly Departed’s intention or direction. Rather, the entire show is based upon the group of women uplifting one another and sharing in a shared loss, even when some topics may not have been specifically geared towards themselves. So while the absence of other women of color was absolutely felt in this comedy special, and there was an inadvertent awkward tension between the Black and white comedians, the show as it is is still hilarious and poignant nonetheless.

Absolutely not to be passed over are the costumes and makeup of each of the seven women. Their hair, their makeup, and their funeral attire were stunning. Clad in all black, each outfit was wonderfully distinct, bold, and frankly fabulous while still appropriate for the occasion in a way that I didn’t even know a funeral could be.

Most impressive is the fact that the entire show was shot one actor at a time and stitched together via VFX, a fact that if you didn’t know in advance, you might not easily realize until the credits roll and a sizzle real from production showing off this feature plays. In retrospect, it makes much more sense now why there are only a select number of camera angles and that occasionally when one of the comedians responds to something the monologuer says, it can feel canned. But honestly, if I never knew this was how the film was made, I would have never guessed. However, the fact that it is revealed in the end is really appreciated because it helped me forgive some of the slightly awkward moments and really laud the comedians and the production team for pulling off a full-on special one person at a time. The sizzle real itself is also as hilarious as it is informative and well worth the few extra minutes of your time in the end.

Speaking of the end, it’s one of the most random but absolutely welcome surprise cameo endings I have seen lately, possibly catapulting itself into the position of the best part of the whole special.

Not every joke lands, but Yearly Departed is thoroughly enjoyable and a good way to laugh off the last year as a new one gets itself started. Despite some awkwardness brought on by the constraints of production and the reality of who starred, it’s a funny and astute cap to an absolutely miserable year. Start 2021 on a good foot by burying 2020 with these comedy gems and their takedowns of some of the year’s most dearly departed.

Yearly Departed is streaming now on Amazon Prime.

Yearly Departed
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Not every joke lands, but Yearly Departed is thoroughly enjoyable and a good way to laugh off the last year as a new one gets itself started. Despite some awkwardness brought on by the constraints of production and the reality of who starred, it’s a funny and astute cap to an absolutely miserable year. Start 2021 on a good foot by burying 2020 with these comedy gems and their takedowns of some of the year’s most dearly departed.