A comedian’s debut album has a lot of heavy lifting to do. On the one hand, the performer wants to introduce potential new fans to who they are as a person and a comedian, but on the other, they need to win over the audience, which may involve trading off candidness for crowd-pleasing jokes. Thankfully, L.A.-based comedian Irene Tu makes no such compromises. We learn who she is—a former Chicagoan, a meat eater, and a fan of vanilla sex, for a start—and get a taste of how macabre her humor can get. Her debut comedy record We’re Done Now ticks all the boxes of a winning introduction, and then some.
Tu’s wry, casual cadence feels made for the stage. Her delivery is snappy, but never too quickly for listeners to keep up. Between her skillful pacing and self-deprecating anecdotes, Tu comes across as a natural comedian, though from the smoothness of the set you know that she’s practiced like nobody’s business. She’s like an expert dancer who makes all the moves look easy, despite the enormous effort and technique behind every motion.
Tu opens the hour talking about vaccines, which may make some listeners initially dubious. After all, we’ve discussed the pandemic ad nauseam for the last two years non-stop, and it feels like there’s not much more to examine onstage. However, Tu focuses on the social minutiae around which vaccine people chose, and her sardonic observations keep the subject fresh. After all, the pandemic isn’t going anywhere, so we may as well find new ways to laugh about it. For the rest of the record, Tu regularly employs this bait-and-switch when it comes to overly discussed topics, reeling in listeners who want to see how she subverts expectations this time around.
As the hour progresses, Tu delves headfirst into some dark humor. One of her funniest bits involves her fixation on dictators and which is the “best” (or, in reality, worst). Cannibalism comes up more than once, and she doesn’t shy away from sharing which people she thinks will taste the best once we get to the point in the apocalypse where we’ll have to eat one another. When a bit about dogs and cunnilingus gets a mixed reaction from the audience, Tu follows through to deliver the joke in full, but doesn’t try to double down. She manages to walk the line there well by not wimping out of her joke or trying to force it to land in a crowd that’s not entirely receptive (though it still gets plenty of laughs). Her perspective is delightfully skewed as she takes us aboard her unusual trains of thought.
We’re Done Now neatly showcases Tu’s quick wit, relaxed stage presence, and hilariously off-the-wall observations. With a performance like that, we’re hardly done with Tu.