Case Number 05218: Small Claims Court

NATIONAL LAMPOON LIVE NEW FACES (VOLUME 1)

Image Entertainment // 2004 // 82 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 21st, 2004

The Charge

Actually, these faces are now pretty recognizable.

The Case

National Lampoon last assaulted my sense of humor with a truly unfunny stand-up comedy disc, Down and Dirty. It was therefore with much apprehension that I popped this disc in -- only to be surprised. First, these comics weren't bad. And second, four out of the five of them were not "new faces."

If you watch Last Comic Standing, you will immediately recognize four-fifths of the comics. Rob Cantrell, Alonzo Bodden, Bonnie McFarlane, and Gary Gulman (with an abysmal coiffure) are the LCS vets, with Shang Forbes as the new-to-me closer.

If you enjoyed Last Comic Standing (particularly the second season, where Bodden, McFarlane, and Gulman competed), I don't think you'll be disappointed by this set. Basically, this is a compendium of the comics' routines, which were seen in bits and pieces throughout the series, but can now be viewed in 20 minute chunks. Did you like Gary Gulman's stuff? Or Bodden's? Well, it's all here. Gulman's cookie shtick, his commentary on the lateness of stamp technology, Bodden's quandary of having female friends, and so forth -- it's the Last Comic Standing greatest hits collection (sans John Heffron, far and away the funniest of the lot).

Cantrell is an endearing comedian, but one whose material is spotty and has yet to catch up to his personality. The guy has a genuine and disarming stage presence, but unfortunately his jokes don't take advantage of that. McFarlane is probably the least funny of the quintet in this show (and was the first booted from LCS). Though she's pretty amusing, her energy level is zero.

And then you have Forbes, someone I had never heard before, who seizes the stage with electricity. His loud, turbo-charged, in-your-face delivery often overshadows his weaker material, though when he nails both aspects -- funny and energetic -- the guy kills. He definitely brought home the bacon as the final act, leaving the audience rolling. I liked this guy a lot; however, since I had already heard Bodden's and Gulman's sets (the other high points) repeatedly in the pas, that probably took some of the wind from their sails for me.

Surprisingly, the guy who struck out was the host: the normally hilarious Frank Caliendo. I had previously heard Caliendo's bits (John Madden, the Seinfeld drug episode) on the radio. I cried like a friggin' baby because I was laughing so hard listening to him then -- but on stage, there was just no pizzazz. And the crowd wasn't into it either. Mystifying and depressing, given that I think Caliendo is very, very funny.

For those of you have never watched an episode of Last Comic Standing, and have never seen the stuff these comics are made of, I think you'll be impressed with this disc. It really is quite funny, sporting only a few speed-bumps. In between the acts, the comics are given quick interviews, a nice touch that reveals the history behind their bits and their approaches to the craft.

I will say this for the National Lampoon folks. They put together a good-looking disc. The widescreen video is sharp, and the 5.1 digital mix, while not that necessary, is crisp. Behind the Scenes with Boogie features said Boogie goofing around on the street and interviewing some of the program's performers. Meh.

Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile
Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Behind the Scenes with Boogie

Accomplices
* National Lampoon
http://www.nationallampoon.com/