Patton Oswalt’s ‘Annihilation’ will make you more human

Patton Oswalt is smiling through most of the show but it’s moments like this that are the most powerful. Image from

Ulises Duenas

A good comedian can weave the tragedies of the world into something hilarious. A strong person can withstand personal tragedy and become better for it. Few have what it takes to turn personal tragedy into hilarity, but Patton Oswalt has done that with his Netflix stand-up special, “Annihilation.”


What makes Oswat’s special so compelling are the segments where he talks about the aftermath of the death of his wife, Michelle McNamara. He handles this difficult subject very well. It would have been be easy to have long stretches where he’s talking seriously before any punchline is delivered.

Even though there are somber moments in the special, they don’t last long and are always punctuated by a solid joke. Oswalt still delivers on the absurd and vulgar comedy that he’s become known for. Lines like “You’re a ghost, just fly behind me in the fuckin’ car and I’ll talk to you there” keep the overall tone from becoming too serious and sad.

Most of the special consists of political humor, pop-culture jokes and absurd stories. These are the bits that are somewhat hit and miss and it all comes before Oswalt starts talking about his grieving process. Most of it is funny, but there is a big difference between the first and second halves of this special. The first half is lighthearted while the second half is a lot more personal and engrossing. Oswalt brings his most powerful material in the second half and he does it without faltering.

Patton Oswalt shows tremendous character in “Annihilation.” The parts where he talks about the death of his wife and raising his daughter alone are emotionally heavy and strong. I wouldn’t say the first half is disposable or unnecessary, but it takes a hard shift in the second half. Not all of the jokes hit their mark and it’s for that reason that this falls short of five stars.

[Final score: 4/5 stars]

Ulises Duenas can be reached at [email protected] or @OrionUlisesD on Twitter.