Ryan Hamilton: Happy Face (2017)

Imagine Jerry Seinfeld’s 1990s stand up routine, add a lot of charm and some actual jokes, and you end up with Ryan Hamilton’s “Happy Face.” Like Seinfeld, Hamilton has a relaxed, conversational approach to comedy and inhabits the stage with lots of presence – but unlike Seinfeld, Hamilton is laugh-out-loud funny, and he’s a charming, warm presence to spend an hour with. Going over a number of interrelated topics that cover everything from his distinctive appearance, his childhood in Idaho, and the trials of dating in modern times, Hamilton’s delivery is casually confident and you can tell he’s happy with his material, while his rapport with the audience is both congenial and affectionate. He seems delighted to be participating in his own Netflix special, and from the minute he walks out on stage, he owns the screen in a refreshingly natural way. His approach to political humor is muted but impressively insightful, which also serves to highlight the pleasant gentleness that Hamilton emanates, not unlike a stand-up version of Mr. Rogers.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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