Cristela Alonzo is back with her second Netflix special, “Cristela Alonzo: Middle Classy.” In this special, she focuses primarily on her new experiences in the middle class but touches on moments from her childhood as well. This special was my first experience with Cristela, but I watched her other special right away to continue the fun. Her warm charm is irresistible as she jumps and dances around the stage. You are guaranteed a few laughs even if you leave without becoming a Cristela fan.
The core of her content is her movement into the middle class and her experiences with things like medical firsts. She describes having health insurance for the first time and the excitement she felt to finally have it. However, she was not sure how to use it. After being told by a friend to go get a check-up, she makes an appointment with a gynecologist, without realizing what the gynecologist was for. Her description of the shock she felt at her appointment was hilarious and perfectly described what it feels like to have a new medical procedure. Her reactions to common middle class necessities were great. This story really puts the luxury of health insurance into perspective.
Despite describing her new middle class experiences, Cristela has not left her “Lower Classy” roots behind. While I could not relate directly to her immigrant experience, I was still drawn into her stories by the relatability she establishes with her comfortable storytelling and enthusiastic body language. I liked her bit explaining Vick’s many uses to her friend. She used humor to reflect on the resourcefulness of women in her community. The joke also contrasts with later experiences of having health insurance. She uses humor to describe her Mexican-American immigrant experience and showcase the difficulties of that life with her and her family’s resilience.
I preferred this special to her first Netflix set “Lower Classy.” While Cristela is still funny, she seemed more comfortable in her role as a comedian in “Middle Classy.” Because she is more experienced, it feels as if viewers already have a history with Cristela. It feels almost like a casual catch-up with a friend rather than a first date. Through this special, I could see her growth and ease as a comedian. Even if you can’t relate directly to her life as a Latina immigrant, you will still feel as if you are in a genuine conversation rather than waiting for an awkward comedian to hit a punchline.
“Lower Classy” is also much more political, as it was recorded in the heat of the 2016 election. While she discusses politicized issues in “Middle Classy” like immigration and coronavirus, it is less direct than in the previous special. I liked the political elements in “Lower Classy” but I did not think anything was missing from “Middle Classy.” If you liked this special, you would also enjoy “Lower Classy” which is still an awesome set but it was great to see her growth.
Cristela’s storytelling ability flows easily, making the hour-long special whiz by. It does not ever feel like she’s trying to reach a specific punchline. Rather, each story is entertaining as it progresses. It feels as if you are listening to a friend, instead of a comedian building tension for a hopeful payout.
Her physical comedy only adds to the set. She appears more relaxed than in “Lower Classy” and Cristela jumps, dances and stomps to really draw the audience into the story. Her movement feels like a natural supplement to the set. Instead of her reclining at the back of the stage, seemingly hiding from the audience, her presence fills the stage.
I started this set not knowing what to expect, but I left excited to see whatever else Cristela does. She frames her experience as a poor immigrant moving into the middle class with a great blend of humor and insight. She laughs at herself and her community without kicking it down at either.
“Cristela Alonzo: Middle Classy” is available to stream on Netflix.
By Ella Hachee