Gary Gulman's new comedy special on growing up poor

Comedian Gary Gulman's comedy special "Born on Third Base" will be released on the streaming platform Max (née HBO) on December 21. Gulman is one of my very favorite stand-up comedians, and as famous and accomplished as he is, I still think he's massively underrated.

His previous HBO special, 2019's "The Great Depresh," was groundbreaking, as it was about his struggles with very severe depression. What was remarkable about it was how shockingly frank he was about his condition and treatment, after hiding it for his entire career, while also delivering truly hilarious comedy about it. I've recommended it to many people with loved ones struggling with depression because it's a window into what it's like to suffer with it, and they've been unanimously grateful for having seen it.

In "Born on Third Base," his playful style is at the forefront, with many digressions into silliness, wordplay, and observational comedy. But underneath all that is a very cohesive, and even profound, story of what it was like growing up poor. For a special as laugh-out-loud funny as this hour is, there are many strong and important public policy points he makes, including messages about welfare reform and shockingly accelerating income disparity.

If you're going to illustrate your thesis about America's treatment of the poor, why not do it with a long, hilarious bit about Pop Tarts and the ignominy of getting one as your subsidized school breakfast? His expression of how he feels growing up poor affected his outlook for his entire life is touching and meaningful, but is illustrated with fantastic comedy bits about subjects like ordering a burrito at Chipotle and watching close-up magic.

If you've never heard of Gulman, I'm posting the video that introduced me to him: his States Abbreviation routine. I almost hate to do it because it's seven years old and it's kind of his trademark bit, but it's publicly available on YouTube, and it is a great way to sample his style of comedy.