Wilson’s comedy show needs to be ‘FIXED’

Feb. 12, 2023, 6:30 p.m.

Imagine watching a YouTube story time video live with extra millennial cringe and musical numbers — that is the experience of watching Emily Wilson’s one-woman musical comedy show “FIXED.” Constructed like a poor imitation of Bo Burnham’s “Inside,” it lacked both humor and introspection, leaving me uncomfortable and shocked.

In what read as a Netflix special pitch, “FIXED” chronicles Wilson’s experience of being on the singing competition show, “The X Factor,” at 15. Oozing with unlikable melodrama and a dearth of perspective, the entire story could have been boiled down to five minutes: Wilson was on “The X Factor,” the judges were mean to her and that was terrible. Instead, the audience listened to Wilson complain for over an hour as she performed at Bing Studio on Friday night.

Wilson seemed to think that “FIXED” was a testament to how well-adjusted she is about her “X Factor” experience, encouraging the audience to laugh at her teenage self. She even opened the show by telling viewers that it was okay to laugh at clips of “X Factor” judge Nicole Scherzinger being mean to her 15-year-old self.

But even as Wilson joked about her childish longing for fame, she was singing and dancing in a show blatantly all about her. As a performer, she was desperate for the audience’s attention. There seemed to be a complete lack of self-awareness, making Wilson’s story difficult to connect with and embarrassing to watch. I didn’t want to laugh with Wilson; I wanted to ask if she was okay.

Wilson’s efforts to seem relatable instead came across as overly rehearsed. She was stiff on stage, reverting back to the same facial expressions time and time again. Segments, like when she feigned writing in her diary, felt over dramatic and shallow. Her distance from the audience was only worsened by cheap shots at shock humor, like throwing out random profanity in the middle of a faux conversation between her and God. Awkward millennial humor didn’t help either. Bits with “Hannah Montana” transition music and Heelys felt dated and unoriginal.

Video edits, displayed on two screens on stage, were some of the most successful parts of the show. In one bit, Wilson DJ-ed in flashing lights as mean YouTube comments scrolled by. In another, she sang about the immortalization of the internet against the backdrop of embarrassing social media clips from her teenage years. Some of her video material remained self-indulgent — like her desire to constantly zoom in on her childhood face — but, generally, these segments connected to a relatability ethos that was elusive for the rest of the show. For brief glimpses, Wilson’s commentary on the shame of the first internet generation actually landed.

But entertaining edits couldn’t save a comedy show that, for the most part, just wasn’t funny. “FIXED” was full of flat humor. Wilson joked about being in love with her gay best friend — a premise that is both overdone and ridden with stereotypes. She also had a far-too-long set about being Republican as a teenager, where she called New York University a “conversion camp.” The segment was awkward enough to give me secondhand embarrassment.

Perhaps worst of all was her closing joke of the night. Wilson explained that she and her fellow contestants had a group sexual experience after getting voted off ”The X Factor,” while their parents were just down the hall. The punchline of this joke? Wilson sang, “and two of them were 12,” pointing out the young ages of some of the group’s members involved in this escapade. At the time, Wilson herself was 15 and another one of the singers was 17. It’s unclear how true this story is, but either way the joke’s premise was too uncomfortable to be funny.

Leaving Bing Studio on Friday night, my friends and I spent over an hour trying to unpack Wilson’s show. It left us all with a discomfort that we felt compelled to process. The vote was unanimous: we wouldn’t recommend this embarrassing, self-obsessive millennial trainwreck to anyone.

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.

Kirsten Mettler '23 is an Executive Editor of The Stanford Daily. She is a former Managing Editor for Arts & Life and Desk Editor for News. Contact her at kmettler 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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