Image Entertainment // 2008 // 61 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // January 2nd, 2009
I may as well preface this review by admitting that stand-up comedy just isn't my thing. For the most part, I find that contemporary comedians are more interested in shocking and offending than making people laugh, and I tire of the seemingly endless riffs on stereotypes -- gender, race, religion. While Louis C.K. is a good example of why I'm not a big fan of the genre, he is a pretty funny guy, and he delivers a very polished show here.
The disc is a live show that Louis C.K. delivered in Boston. At 60 minutes, it's a pretty long set with no breaks, and C.K. covers the usual topics: racism, being married, personal sexual dysfunction, having kids...
Indeed, the generic nature of the material is both the greatest strength and weakness of the set. Louis C.K. is a very standard guy: all-American, white, uncertain racial heritage, married, two kids...while so many comedians rely on what sets them apart from the mainstream, Louis C.K. uses his complete averageness to set him apart. Of course, that also means that nothing in this set is new or novel. He tries to compensate for this by being as shocking and offensive as possible -- he even starts out by using several of the most offensive words he can think of. It doesn't tie into what he really wants to do that much, but the shock value is designed to make him stand out better. Of course, this is also pretty standard for stand-up comedians these days.
Is the show worth watching for fans of stand-up comedy? Absolutely. I found myself laughing quite often, though I was once again struck by the thing that I always notice when I watch or listen to stand-up comedy. I wasn't laughing nearly as hard as the live audience was. Had they been primed by another great comic? Were they all really drunk? Was their laughter and applause digitally enhanced to make me feel like a loser? My guess is that this brand of comedy simply works better when you're present in the audience, surrounded by other people and appreciative of the fact that the comedy in front of you is happening live, not recorded for posterity. If you have a chance to see Louis C.K. live, it would be a much better option than springing for the DVD.
That's not to say there's anything wrong with the transfer. The video quality is acceptable for a performance DVD, since we really just need to see him talking on a black background. The audio is more important, and also perfectly acceptable. We can hear every word he says, and he's never drowned out by the crowd. The only extra we get is an interview, which doesn't show near the same level of wit.
If you're a big fan of Louis C.K. and want to relive this material, this DVD is a fine way to do it. Beyond that, I would only recommend it to the most die-hard stand-up fans. This is a genre meant to be seen live, not collected in jars.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 61 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated