Greg Warren: The Salesman.

Gorilla Specials: If Comedy Came Wholesale, Greg Warren Would Indisputably Be ‘The Salesman’

Greg Warren’s The Salesman starts with a preview of his comedy rhythm, with the comic sharing “So, during 2020, I had a lot of free time. Like…a lot. And I wanted to use it to better myself in some way, and I didn’t…I didn’t.” The repetition of phrases as punchlines, and the halted way of landing those jokes are reminiscent of Bob Newhart’s masterful timing. However, Warren also makes great use of his voice as a tool to run through impressions and pitch a voice tinged with faux-frustration up and down in volume, bringing to mind Greg Behrendt’s incredible ability to use agitation as an accelerant for his bits. These characteristics, along with a penchant for wordplay, make the comedy of the special sparkle. It’s Warren’s gravity and deftness as a performer that make it a must-watch.

Greg Warren: The Salesman.
Greg Warren: The Salesman. Courtesy of Nateland & 800 Pound Gorilla.

Greg Warren can wring out every last bit of comedy from a phrase like no other.

While discussing how he loses documents constantly, he runs through a bunch of q&a style jokes that reach a fever pitch with “Sir, do you have your birth certificate?” “My birth certificate? That document is 54 years old. I also don’t have the Declaration of Independence!” Here, Warren hits the word “birth” with such gobsmacked awe that it pushes the audience to erupt with laughter, and absolutely lose it when he stretches out “Declaration of Independence” into “dec-la-ration of in-de-pen-dance” with incredible disdain. A few minutes later, Warren has the line “I spend a lot of money on insurance, but I use it.” There’s a slight, almost nervous pause between the words “insurance” and “but,” which helps an otherwise nothing phrase transform into a full joke. 


Over and over, Warren lands clean, clear comedy with aplomb, using a matter of seconds in his timing to bring the house down.

Warren understands the power of indignation.

There are lots of ways to be annoyed, irritated, or disgruntled, but unlike Lewis Black who crescendos from bitter to outraged, or John Mulaney, who is always projecting with stentorian efficacy, Warren goes from quiet, almost reserved speaking to a tone tinged with frustration that’s uniquely his own. Consider this chunk of dialogue from early in the special:


 I want more from my insurance company….$3500 I gave you guys last year, you can afford to send me a card. At least laminate the card. The library laminates their cards. I don’t think the whole library system made $3500 last year. They don’t send you a card, they send you a piece of paper, and it’s got a dotted line on it with a picture…of…a…scissors. 


At no point is Warren yelling in this bit, but a sincere-ish frustration over this inconvenience sends his voice lower in his throat, akin to someone who wants to yell, but is also in public. What Warren settles on is a matter-of-factness that kills with its universality for the audience, but also its ability to serve as a proxy for their own frustration with insurance cards. By the time he hits the word “picture,” complete with a miming of cutting with scissors, the audience is already losing it. Warren doubles down on this, shifting gears from his own vantage point to that of a financial advisor at an insurance company, putting on a greedy, peevish Southern accent and saying:


Hey, this is Stan in finance, and I was runnin’ the numbers, and we only made 178 billion dollars last year. We’re gonna have to save some money somewhere. Here’s what we’re gonna do. No more plastic. Send ‘em paper. Put a scissor picture on there. They think they’re doin’ a craft project. 


Here, the inconvenience turns to mocking, but there’s no attempt at doing an exaggerated dumb guy low-toned voice, or a higher-pitched know-it-all. Instead, Warren conjures a real person in his outrage, and gives the audience another layer to engage with and laugh at.

Warren’s commitment to Jif peanut butter makes the special…special.

A large chunk of the material Warren performs is rooted in his former job at Jif, and this allows him to take shots at rival companies without the stakes of doing so feeling political or risky. For this reason, the dialogue he creates around peanut butter is oddly engaging, simply because it comes from a real place of loyalty for Warren. When discussing organic peanut butter, he lands the mocking joke of ““Greg, you just take a knife, and you stir the jar, and the oil goes away. Oh, so now I’m supposed to help you make the peanut butter?” When he learns an audience member likes Skippy brand, he calmly explains “You eat skippy? And you like the taste of it? Ma’am, you have covid.”

The material crushes because it’s inoffensive yet personal, landing in that sweet spot that comedy often tries for, but struggles to land.


How much Jif means to Warren is also what makes his hatred of Peter Pan so enjoyable. On their honey roasted peanut butter, he offers “If I know those guys, they’re just grindin’ up bees and stirrin’ ‘em in there.” Its silliness is funny, but the fact that it sits squarely between a joke and Warren’s actual opinion is what makes it work. Prior to this, Peter Pan is the only subject that really works Warren up into a hateful lather, as he unleashes on their lack of nutritional value, and hits the word “cartoon” when describing the inspiration for the name with such disgust that his voice cracks in a way that has to be heard to be believed. 


Its peanut butter framework, along with Warren’s skill, make The Salesman something truly special this year in comedy.

Greg Warren's latest special The Salesman will be available to watch for free on YouTube tonight at 7 PM CT! Stream & download the audio from the special on 800 Pound Gorilla.


Looking for more comedy from Greg Warren? Check out his special Where The Field Corn Grows on 800 Pound Gorilla.

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