“If comedy is tragedy plus time, this is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen,” comedian Mike Birbiglia said to a packed house.

He’s referring to the set up of a joke that would eventually get him into quite the argument with famed director David O. Russell, but he’ll get to that later.

Birbiglia’s newest Netflix special Thank God For Jokes appeared on the streaming service Feb. 28. This is Birbiglia’s second special for the platform, his first being My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend in 2013 .

My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend showcases Birbiglia’s astoundingly funny and poignant storytelling, as it weaves together tales of the comic’s views on love and marriage. Now, in his latest staged endeavor, Birbiglia sticks with the idea of trying to explain love. But this time it’s not directed toward a person, it’s toward jokes.

At first the concept may seem a little too obvious. Of course you love jokes, Mike. You’re a successful comedian. We get it.

But Thank God For Jokes isn’t a comic waxing poetic about how he’s the luckiest man in the world to be able to make people laugh for a living — that’s a story that any standup with a handful of fans would tell you (probably regardless of whether you asked). Thank God For Jokes is far more analytic. It doesn’t just acknowledge the positive side of entertaining through laughter, it delves into the choices involved in trying to decide what jokes to tell. What happens when you voice a joke that may be controversial? What happens when you choose to leave it scrawled between the covers of a notebook?

The science of joke-telling offers no clean-cut conclusions. Birbiglia doesn’t know for sure what’s right or wrong in the comedy world, but at this point in his career he has plenty of experience he can use to weave a variety of interesting hypotheses.

The nuances of jokes and comedy are called into question as Birbiglia shifts flawlessly through stories of success and struggle in the industry. There’s no defining narrative like in his previous specials, but his collection of bits all tie nicely into the theme.

He’s not a newbie anymore and his storytelling reflects that. Anecdotes regarding struggling up the ladder are few and far between. Now, after having lived his dreams for a substantial amount of time, Birbiglia’s tales are from a more established point of view.

Though he’s conscious of the fact he’s not yet a household name (“I … know at some point this week you told someone where you were going tonight and that person said ‘who?'”), he also knows that the opportunities he now receives are of an entirely different caliber than ever before. Gone are the days of traveling for hours just to perform five minutes; now he’s rubbing felt elbows with the Muppets and telling jokes about David O. Russell in a room that David O. Russell is in.

Thank God For Jokes is a testament to the complexity of a good joke — or a bad joke, for that matter. With a glimmer in his eye and the slightest hint of a smirk, Birbligia barrels through his one-man show, telling jokes and then analyzing the same jokes moments later. It’s quite the spectacle coming from a man who really, truly loves them.