Stream It Or Skip It: 'Katt Williams: Woke Foke' on Netflix, bringing airhorns and visual aids to his live comedy party (2024)

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Katt Williams: Woke Foke

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Katt Williams captivated America’s attention to kick off 2024 with his epic three-hour performance on Shannon Sharpe’s podcast, so Netflix thought: Who better to mark the streaming giant’s second-ever live global comedy special, especially as part of Netflix’s second Netflix is a Joke Fest? What might Williams say? Whom might he call out? How long might he stay onstage? Would you believe he stuck the landing at 60 minutes?


The Gist: Netflix first experimented with a live comedy special 14 months ago to the day, starting with Chris Rock: Selective Outrage, which set viewership records for the streamer thanks to Rock keeping a fairly-tight lip on what exactly he wanted to say onstage following “The Slap” he received from Will Smith the previous time Rock was onstage in front of a live global audience at the Academy Awards.

Williams didn’t come to YouTube Theater in Inglewood, Calif., with quite as much hype, but then again, Williams is the rare kind of stand-up comedian who has proven time and again to generate his own hype.

For his third Netflix special and first one streamed live, Williams didn’t so much double-down on any of his comedy beefs he brought to our attention in January, but did find time in an hour to make jokes at the expense of Nick Cannon, Robert De Niro, Jamie Foxx, Da Brat, Trick Daddy, Tory Lanez, Lizzo, Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Sharon Osbourne, P. Diddy, Wayne Brady, Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. All with the help of a bunch of sound effects, musical cues, and visual aids in the form of giant photos and videos he displayed on giant screens (which director Troy Miller didn’t let the cameras linger on for too long).

What Comedy Specials Will It Remind You Of?:While Netflix only has last year’s Chris Rock special as a reference, the vibe coming from Williams here is more reminiscent of the earlier live HBO specials of George Lopez.

Memorable Jokes: Williams mentions his “Club Shay Shay” appearance just briefly in his opening remarks, noting: “I tried to be incog-Negro but thanks to Shannon Sharpe’s loudmouth ass, the gig is up. Everybody knows I’ll tell. But I don’t do no snitching! Y’all know my job. In my spare time I infiltrate the Illuminati. Look for their secrets. Run back. Tell y’all. And they’d kill me if they could, but I’m too fast, and the Lord keep blessing me.”

Perhaps because Williams spends a lot of time talking about people we have heard of, it’s a bit more memorable when instead of photos, he actually stops so we can watch this YouTube video that remixes part of a 2005 local TV news profile of a boy who’s blind and wants to play football.

“I hope none of my blind friends see this and take it out of context,” Williams cracks afterward. (The true story of this kid is sadder, as Dillon Collier died in 2021 at age 26 from complications of Alstrom Syndrome)

There’s also an audio cue that Williams references a couple of times during the hour as something that lifts his spirits, and it’s the sound of a young girl singing, of all things, the Nationwide insurance jingle.

Last summer’s video of a fight on an Alabama dock also cheered Williams up so much that he regales us with his own retelling and re-enactment of the incident.

But what about his actual joke jokes?

Our Take: This is a surprisingly involved multimedia performance from Williams, relying on shifting our attention from him to the screens for visual cues, whether it’s that viral video about the blind kid or any number of still photos to surprise us with whichever celebrity is going to catch the next punchline.

And for all of the times he teases us by wondering aloud if he’s going to say something that might get him “cancelled,” he’s not really playing that game like too many of his peers right now.

For one thing, as he says about revealing secrets that might threaten powerful people: “They can’t threaten me. I’m already scared!” For another thing, titling his special Woke Foke isn’t even about attempting to mock progressive movements or position himself as a victim of any sort. Rather, there’s even a brief portion where he addresses some of our contemporary debates about words and semantics, suggesting that toxic masculinity is a redundant term.“The opposite of toxic masculinity is femininity,” he suggests instead.

“They want me to be mad at woke. I’m not fitting to change woke,” Williams continues. “It is not f—ing political, bitch. The f–k — the last time I checked, woke was the opposite of sleep!”

Making fun of Nick Cannon for fathering a bunch of kids, or Robert De Niro for becoming a father again at 80 years old, or jokes about either Joe or Hunter Biden, none of those really necessarily needed the added perspective from Williams. But he includes them all as part of a larger theme in which he’s essentially delivering a giant pep talk to Americans about how our life in America remains full of possibilities and opportunities.

For all of his Katt-fighting and headline-grabbing, Williams still wants us to see the United States as the greatest country in the world, and so he urges us to stop fighting. He knows that’s a sticking point for a dwindling portion of the population. “If you’re a racist in 2024 understand you are one of the stupidest motherf—ers that ever lived,” he says, adding: “It don’t matter who the f— you don’t like. It all sounds ridiculous.”

Which leads him to his biggest pitch yet for making America even greater: A call for reparations. Williams argues we have the money. After all, we just agreed to send billions of dollars overseas to help the dreams of Ukrainians, so why not make things right once and for all and show empathy to the plight of black Americans who’ve struggled for equality for generations since the end of slavery?

Our Call: STREAM IT. Because Williams occupies rarefied comedy air, you’ll want to try to catch up to the cultural conversation as soon as possible if you didn’t see it live already on Saturday night. But because the bulk of the hour is chock full of bells and whistles and topical references, it might not have the same staying power as some of his earlier specials.

Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat. He also podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin stories:The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.


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Stream It Or Skip It: 'Katt Williams: Woke Foke' on Netflix, bringing airhorns and visual aids to his live comedy party (2024)
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