Tom Segura’s ‘Sledgehammer’ Pointlessly Crosses a Really Disturbing Line
Well, you can’t say Tom Segura didn’t warn us. He recently told Variety that his new Netflix special, Sledgehammer, was “outrageous and I’m sure it’s going to offend people.” I was skeptical — based on its trailer, the new special felt a lot like Segura buddy Bert Kreischer’s recent Razzle Dazzle. Sure, Kreisher is “outrageous” for a middle school dad but when all is said and done, it’s mostly harmless fun. But I’ll be damned if Segura hasn’t figured out a way to outrage after all.
Segura makes some peculiar comedy choices, presumably in his desire to shock. But he doesn’t make comic arguments that are provocative and polarizing, like Dave Chappelle. He doesn’t rant about cancel culture ruining comedy, like Roseanne and Rob Schneider. Instead, he tells ‘good-natured’ jokes about his family … that suggest spousal abuse and pedophilia. As fodder for comic material goes, “dumb” is the kindest descriptor.
Let’s start with the wife story. It’s the coda to a funny bit about Segura tearing all manner of ligaments in a celebrity slam dunk contest (on a lowered rim). Just as the comic has finished his rehab and returned to normal physical activity, his wife suffers a middle-of-the-night tumble down a flight of stairs and breaks an ankle. Segura calls 911 for help, then realizes that this whole situation looks pretty fishy. His wife “fell” down a flight of stairs? The paramedics have a lot of questions and Segura gets nervous.
We’re mostly with Segura at this point. A comic’s anxiety about what others will think of an otherwise innocent situation? Sure, that’s what comics do. When his wife announces to the EMTs that “he would never hurt me,” it just makes Segura look more suspicious. By the time they get to the hospital, Segura gives in to the narrative, joking to the doctor:
“I punched her in the mouth and she fell down the stairs.”
Ha ha? It doesn’t get better with the doctor’s supposed response: “I get it, man, I get it. She’s super-chatty.”
The end of the bit? “She’s doing better now. She’s at home. She gets it,” Segura says with a wink, implying that she’s learned her lesson. “Sandwich at six!” After his wife hears Segura retell the story at a comedy show, she asks him, “Can you imagine if you did hit me?” The comic’s quick response: “Yeah!”
Yikes. But unfortunately, that’s not Sledgehammer’s cringiest bit. In fact, it’s not even close. That comes earlier in the show when Segura tells a story about showering with his six-year-old son. Hmm, I thought — that might set off some alarm bells for some. Segura knows where those minds might go, but he reassures us not to worry: “He’s six, he’s not sixteen.”
Inevitably, given the circumstances, the boy glimpses his dad’s junk. “You have a big penis,” says the kid, “and I have a small one.” Again, weird territory but probably something children notice about their parents, at least the ones who still undress in front of their kids at that age.
And here’s where Segura steps off the cliff. “Well, that’s because mine’s hard, buddy!”
There are so many things in the world to joke about and Segura has to make up gags about getting erections in the shower with his six-year-old? How could it possibly get worse? Oh, just wait. “We can make yours hard too,” says the comic, miming the act of masturbating his son.
Segura does get a big response from the audience here, some effed-up mixture of shock and WTF laughs. “Noooo,” he says, just in case there were any social service workers in the crowd. “I did not jerk off my son. I just always wanted to say that.”
Which leaves us with the question: Why? In a comedy special that could otherwise be described as “affable” and “good-natured,” why build entire bits around hitting your wife and fondling your kid’s private parts? Who is the audience for material like this? Was Segura’s goal to unite the country, convincing both conservatives and liberals to say, “Tom, that ain’t right”? If so, then mission accomplished.