(You can find Part 1 of our interview with Christopher Storer here, in which we discuss his collaborations with Bo Burnham, Chris Rock, Hasan Minhaj and Jerrod Carmichael, and why everybody loves Nanette. Our conversation continues and concludes below.)

In Drew Michael, the Christopher Storer-produced stand-up comedy special (if one can even accurately label it stand-up comedy), comedian Drew Michael performs a deeply troubled routine within the confines of a black-box theatre space, without the presence of a live audience. The camera, directed by Jerrod Carmichael, gets uncomfortably close to Michael, trapping viewers within his very thought process, turning it into one of the most must-see media experiments this year.

Drew Michael, which aired on HBO in August, plays with sound to mirror Michael’s partial hearing loss. It amplifies even his mildly frustrated gestures before cutting to a new setting entirely: a close-up of Suki Waterhouse, playing Michael’s long-distance girlfriend, amidst a Skype conversation with the comedian. The special deconstructs the physical context of comedy, placing us in the proximity of the comedian’s creative process as he struggles to love himself (and his mother — and, in an oddly existential sense, the very concept of a mother). It then abruptly takes us as far away from Michael as possible, allowing us to see him through the eyes of someone else as they’re falling in love with him.

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There’s a joke a few minutes in to what, Bo Burnham’s 2013 comedy special (now on Netflix) that’s almost elegant in its simplicity. The comedian, then twenty-three, begins talking about how he hates video editors before the special cuts abruptly to later in the routine, skipping over the bit entirely, as if the filmmakers, not the comedian, are in control. Whatever form the original joke may have taken on stage, its eventual end-point was the audience at home.

Such is the nature of the modern stand-up special, a form that is by no means new, but one that’s being constantly fine-tuned and experimented with as we plunge further into age of new media. Burnham is known for his hybridization of comedy and musical performance (and for directing recent A24 feature Eighth Grade) though few know his equally influential co-director on what and Make Happy, Christopher Storer, an unsung hero of the comedy special and one of Eighth Grade’s producers.

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