Comedy Central // 2003 // 140 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 27th, 2007
It's time to let go Comedy Central. Just let go.
I suppose in the psyche of the Comedy Central brass, Dave Chappelle will always be the one who got away. In him they must have seen a ticket to even greater things than cable. Perhaps cabinet appointments? Regardless, the network's infatuation with Chappelle appears to have reached his apex with this "Best of" release, a collection of 25 sketches that ran in he 2.15 seasons the show ran before its host went AWOL and pulled the plug.
I'm a big fan of the show, and firmly believe that Chappelle was doing fearless, funny comedy during his tenure, making his weird abrupt vanishing act that much more deflating. Seasons One and Two were littered with memorable sketches, from the blind, black white supremacist to the Player Hater's Ball to the immortal Rick James saga, and most of the heavy-hitters are accounted for on this release.
A sampling of what's included on the disc, which totals about two hours and twenty minutes: Roots bloopers, R. Kelly "I'm Gonna Piss on You," Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories: Prince, the Mad Real World, Samuel Jackson Beer, the Racial Draft, Tyrone's Intervention, the Player Hater's Ball and my second favorite sketch -- next to Rick James -- A Night with Wayne Brady.
That's an excellent cross-section of the stuff Chappelle was doing each week, though I lament the absence of Dave and John Mayer's investigation into racial music and the World Series of Dice. I would have swapped out the two sketches from the aborted Season Three (which exist in this collection, methinks, simply to move the Lost Episodes set, a below-average salvage job by the network).
But you can't have everything, so I would just say buy the Season One and Two sets, to make sure you don't miss any of this stuff. Chappelle really had the skills to pay the bills, and pushed broadcast sketch comedy to the absolute limits and his work deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible. Some of the sketches may tank and indeed more than a few fell flat for me, but even his misses are funnier than most of the recycled, half-baked claptrap sketch comedy you'll see on the airwaves.
Which brings me to my big question about this release...who is it geared towards? Fans of the show will most likely own both seasons anyway, and the exclusive content isn't there to attract the die-hards, unless they're really die-hards who need to own everything Chappelle, but my advice would be to stay away from people like that. In the end, I think this disc, if secured at a reasonable price, would be most suited to the casual fan unwilling to plunk down the big bucks for both seasons. Each sketch on this Best Of disc is good and will catch the uninitiated up in the pop-culture vernacular they've missed (read: "I'm Rick James, bitch!") Again, I'd have swapped out a sketch or two, but, really, you need to scope out the show in its entirety anyway, especially the second season, which may be one of the funniest seasons of television I've ever seen.
The sketches are given the full frame, 2.0 stereo original broadcast format treatment, and look and sound fine. In addition, you'll get the full-length Rick James episode as well as some snippets of unseen footage.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 140 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Full-Length Rick James Episode
* Bonus Footage