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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

‘Get On Your Knees’: A Sharp-Witted Comedic Masterpiece by a Georgetown Graduate

Jacqueline Novak (COL ’04) in “Get on Your Knees”, an irreverent new Netflix comedy special.

“Get on Your Knees,” a new Netflix comedy special written and produced by Georgetown alumnus Jacqueline Novak (COL ’04), has broken the barriers of feminine purity culture while simultaneously offering a dazzling 90-minute performance of poetic verbosity. 

The special begins with Novak entering the stage with an enthusiasm that continues throughout the entirety of the show. She opens by stringing together her personal narratives regarding sex, providing poetic justice to traditionally stigmatized language. Yet, throughout her performance, which is more akin to the one-woman show she adapted it from than the other comedy specials currently on Netflix, she crafts a multilayered argument against the purity culture that is so prevalent in our society today. 

She works these concepts into her act effortlessly, with so much nuance that, throughout the first few minutes, the viewer does not register the inherent details of her true argument. What might appear to be a raunchy comedic monologue disguises a biting explanation of the lengths that women will go to to protect the interests of men, down to the language used for heterosexual sex. 

Through her challenges to the form, she dissuades viewers from simply accepting words and phrases with misogynistic undertones. By twisting and contorting these commonly ignored patterns, Novak calls attention to the way women use language in a performative way, not just to appease the male ego but also to romanticize their shortcomings. 

Over the course of an almost cyclical 90 minutes, she returns to this theme again and again through retelling her own life experiences. She discusses bending over backward to protect her ex-boyfriends’ feelings, essentially embracing their faults as poetic justice. Yet, by the end of the production, she realizes that her continuous efforts have not only gone unnoticed but that her partners never try to protect her feelings.

Novak never comes across as anti-male but instead, as a sexual being who can approach these complexities with a hilariously unbiased lens, simply calling it like she sees it, so to speak. She emphasizes full authenticity which translates into the undertones of women’s role in modern sex and the lack of reciprocity from their partners, throughout her act. 

Novak never positions her logic about inherent inequality as an anti-sex argument or herself as an activist for puritanical values. Instead, she encourages listeners to embrace their experiences, taking advantage of the excitement that comes with intimacy. If anything, her entire performance is a love letter to her sexual experiences, looking back at them as memories that changed her perceptions of the world and of herself. 

Novak speaks with an air of spontaneity as if she is simply engaging in a spirited conversation with her audience. From her constant movement on stage to her animated speech, she can weave complex themes of confidence, self-hatred and philosophy together as if they are simply coming to mind, making the entire set impossible to ignore both as a treatise and a comedic set. 

This type of comedy special stands alone in the scheme of the current, more classical stand-up productions on Netflix. Often, these other comedians focus more on loosely correlated sets regarding a multitude of topics, whereas Novak is able to revolve around a continuous subject, tying in both anecdotes and literary references to keep the audience entertained. This is, to say the least, a fresh take for Netflix, and a step in the right direction for appealing to new viewership. 

Novak graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences in 2004 after working in an improv comedy troupe with other comedic big names like John Mulaney (COL ’04) and Nick Kroll (COL ’01). She references Georgetown briefly during her production, saying, “I ended up at a Catholic-ish college,” where she worked on poetry and creative writing. 

Overall, this special is not only a groundbreaking comedy but a true philosophical argument on the performative nature of straight-cisgender sexual experiences. Now more than ever, these types of social commentaries are vital to exploring new ideas on sex and gender roles, which Novak does exceptionally throughout this performance.

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