Image Entertainment // 2008 // 85 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Victor Valdivia (Retired) // January 22nd, 2009
"I did marry a white guy. Honestly, I had to. My credit was f -- -ed up."
At this point, most people probably know Aisha Tyler from her roles on dramatic series like Ghost Whisperer, 24, and CSI. If anything, few recall that she originally began as a comedienne, hosting E!'s Talk Soup and appearing on various talk shows. Aisha Tyler is Lit: Live at the Fillmore represents her return to standup, in a concert recorded August 16, 2008, at San Francisco's Fillmore, and it's a welcome return indeed. Constrained by her sometimes iffy film roles in forgettable dreck like Balls of Fury, she hasn't always been able to show off her impressive comedic chops. Tyler delivers a brilliantly funny performance, fully living up to her self-description as "a bad-ass shiksa dipped in chocolate sauce."
The easiest comparison that one could make would be to label Tyler as the "black Tina Fey." Like Fey, Tyler is smart, beautiful, and bitingly funny. Tyler, though, has her own very clearly defined voice. She mines the uncomfortable territory of her past for great material. Her routines about growing up as the only black child in her school, being nearly six feet tall at 12 years, and having other children gawk at and fear her are hilarious. She describes herself as a wounded dinosaur, stomping, and bellowing, but secretly thinking, "Come back, tiny white girls! I only want to hug you!" The opening of the DVD is a witty rap song called "No Ass At All" in which Tyler relates her life story and laments her lot as a black woman who doesn't have a curvaceous butt.
It should be noted that this is very much Tyler at her most uncensored and raucous. Though she's not nearly as vulgar as your average Def Comedy Jam comic, easily offended viewers might not be amused by several bits she does. Her routines about extremely well-endowed male strippers, videotaping sex, or getting a bikini wax are all riotous but full of spicy language. The best of these explicit bits is the one where she recalls how she discovered Internet porn. As Tyler puts it, she was forced to watch helplessly as her computer turned itself back on and proclaimed that she needed to watch "Sweaty balls!" Also amusing is the bit about her favorite sexual technique, which she describes only as "the swirly thing." Still, Tyler's comedy is more than just raunchiness. She also talks about her sister's childbirth and her MySpace account and makes them both as entertaining as her more racy material.
Technically the DVD is a bit irritating. The anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer is solid, with little grain. The Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 mix, on the other hand, isn't done so well. It's too soft and laden with echo, meaning you'll have to rewind several times to make out some of Tyler's best punchlines. The copy provided for review did not include any extras, but Image Entertainment is promising that the final release will include the full-length video for "No Ass At All" and a featurette. Regardless, Aisha Tyler is Lit: Live at the Fillmore is a welcome breath of fresh air amidst a glut of standup comedy DVDs and is definitely not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Music Video
* Aisha Tyler on MySpace