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A Comedic Goodbye to 2020: 'Yearly Departed' on Amazon Prime
December 30, 2020  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

Of all the entities that enjoyed the year 2020, a modest list, none stands above Amazon, our national retailing Godzilla.

So let's call it mildly ironic that one of the most entertaining "good riddance" farewells to 2020 premieres Wednesday on Amazon Prime.

That is to say, Amazon, which had a great year, gets to commiserate with everyone who didn't. You gotta admire that kind of open-minded dialogue.

Yearly Departed, an hour-long comedy special, says goodbye to 2020 through the musings of a half dozen female comedians and one actress who plays a female comedian on an Amazon show.

Yearly Departed starts with the smart and effective premise of bringing its speakers to a funeral parlor and having them frame their remarks as remembrances of the departing 2020.

Each speaker takes a few minutes to eulogize a particular thing lost in 2020 and why we will miss it. Or, in some cases, not miss it.

Not all retrospectives on 2020 are suitable for family audiences, with good reason, and Yearly Departed has moments of adult humor.

Tiffany Haddish starts it off by lamenting the loss of casual sex in a year when close contact became problematic. "It's gone," she says, "and it's not coming back."

During Haddish's time at the podium, as with all the speakers, the rest of the group is seated in the funeral parlor, at proper social distance, remarking on or reacting to the speaker. Sometimes it's Amens, and sometimes it's just a wide range of looks, and it all underscores the humor of the occasion.

Rachel Brosnahan, who plays the comedian Mrs. Maisel on the hit Amazon show of the same name, talks about the decline and disappearance of pants in a year when personal contact morphed into Zoom meetings, and participants only needed to be presentable from the torso up.

Two of the funniest spots come from Patti Harrison and Natasha Leggero.

Harrison laments the decline of "rich girl Instagram influencers," in a way that's hilarious to even those who don't know Instagram from Instant oatmeal.

Leggero declares the death of "having any more kids," explaining that, frankly, she's tired of the ones she already has.

Having them around all the time, she says, is not what she signed up for. "I didn't have a baby to teach her," she says. "I did it to get likes on Instagram, like everyone else."

Most of Yearly Departed is sociological rather than political, except for Sarah Silverman. Silverman declares the end of "Making America Great Again," explaining that you can't make something great again "when it was never great in the first place."

Noting America's record on matters like race and gender, Silverman suggests that for all the right things America has done, it has fallen short of great in multiple areas. Realistically, she says, a better goal for the future would be to stop embracing the myth of greatness and instead aspire "to be good. . . . We can be good."

While that may sound modest, it actually sends Yearly Departed out on a positive note, which is underscored by a closing musical number from a well-known guest. 

Amazon. America's full-service provider.

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Watched "Yearly Departed" tonight - not impressed, and the rich girl Instagram influencers bit fell completely flat for us (we're boomers - so I guess I'll now get "OK'd"), probably because although I know what Instagram is, I am not particularly interested in it, nor do I see being an "influencer" as an actual job. Sarah Silverman was good, but mostly the show felt very meh to me.
Jan 1, 2021   |  Reply
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