Comedy Central // 2008 // 71 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // April 30th, 2009
Live, Extended and Uncensored.
As I say every time I sit down to write a stand-up DVD review, I have to temper this review with the reality that humor truly is subjective. It doesn't help for me to tell you whether or not I find Ron White funny, only whether or not it represents a good performance. Ron White: Behavioral Problems is a show he performed in Seattle, which is quite a ways away from his native Texas.
So is it a good performance and show? Well, sort of. White has a very distinctive style, which serves him well on stage and which transfers quite well to DVD. He's a very static performer, and the most motion he takes is relighting his cigar and pouring himself some more scotch. Thankfully, his voice is much more animated, and these small motions are captured well on the disc. His performance is also highly polished -- White's been at this for a long time and it shows. He is familiar with his material, with his audience, and with his humor.
I have to be honest, though: the first half of Ron White: Behavioral Problems is a lot more polished than the second half. I think it might be the scotch, but it's hard to tell whether it's him getting tipsy or him putting on an alcoholic shine. Still, the polish that punctuates the first half of the film gets lost somewhere along the way. White tells a couple of incomplete jokes, and occasionally stumbles over his punch lines in the second half. He covers these mistakes brilliantly, even using them to create some of the better moments of the show. More troublingly, he loses a bit of focus through this second half. The first half is well-structured and sharp without being rude. In the second half, White cuts loose a little more, but his content also gets a bit too personal and awkward. For the most part, this works for the audience, but the end of the show needs to bring everything together, not fizzle into drunken silliness.
Of course, when we watch stand-up on DVD, we're always reminded that this isn't the natural way to watch this material. Stand-up comedy is a transient medium, one that's designed to be seen live. The comic and the audience have a finely tuned dynamic, the crowd is warmed up by another comic, and audience members are part of a true and genuine experience. We only get to see that experience filtered through a medium designed for perfection. What we get here isn't the same type of experience. I'm sure that White is much better in person, and I wasn't part of the group that was responding throughout the show.
The transfer on the DVD is fine, though unspectacular. We see everything we need to see, and the 5.1 soundtrack captures the nuances of White's voice and surrounds the viewer in laughter. As one of the least demanding genres on DVD for technical prowess, I have no complaints about the presentation. By way of special features, we do get a few deleted scenes, another reminder that what we have here is not the same experience as seeing White live. We see the best parts, but several segments that don't work have been carefully excised and hidden away.
Fans of Ron White will probably be quite pleased with this disc. It's a good way to experience the show short of catching him live, though I personally can't imagine watching it more than once. Only the best stand-up comedy can be enjoyed multiple times. After all, it does remain a transitory medium, one that's best enjoyed in the moment. Return visits will only act as a reminder of the show's imperfection.
I'm going to give Ron White: Behavioral Problems a pass, but I'd only
recommend it as a rental.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 71 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes