Comedy Central // 2009 // 80 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roy Hrab (Retired) // July 7th, 2010
"What's the whipped cream for"?
Stark Raving Black is the concert film of a 2009 Lewis Black (Man Of The Year) performance at the Fillmore Theatre in Detroit. It is a standard Black routine; focussing on politics, the economy, religion, growing old, his career, and childhood. Of course, it's also filled with ample profanity and much outraged gesticulation.
I have never understood the appeal of Lewis Black. Apparently, neither has he, as Black himself remarks during this performance that he is shocked to be considered a mainstream comedian. The biggest problem I have with Black is his ranting delivery; I find it annoying after about 5 minutes. And the excessive and pointless swearing just adds to my irritation.
As noted above, Stark Raving Black covers familiar Black territory, picking on easy political and religious targets. It is definitely not edgy or ground-breaking. The best bit in the routine is an extended story about how Black had to follow country singer Vince Gill and Amy Grant at a benefit concert. The couple's heavy Christian vibe and squeaky clean performance threw Black into a mixture of reverence and apoplectic rage. It's actually a very funny anecdote. However, aside from that, it's the standard rageaholic routine, including a tirade about alternative energy and the iPhone.
Technically, this is a typical, high quality Comedy Central release. The video is excellent, featuring strong color and detail. On the audio side, there are three options: Dolby surround and stereo, as well as a 5.1 DTS surround track. Overall, the sound is without any problem. Both Black and the crowd come through crystal clear.
The lone extra is a 70-minute documentary about Black. It is a comprehensive look at his career to date and his touring habits (such as his love of barbecue), and includes footage of Black stand-up performances from the 1970s and 80s. There are interviews with his team, long-time comedian colleagues, and some interactions between Black and his parents. The doc also provides some glimpses of John Bowman, Black's opening act. It's a solid documentary.
I've noted already that I'm no fan of Louis Black and don't recommend this for the general public, but I understand that many people do enjoy his stuff. So, if you're a fan, you'll want to pick this up. In fact, if you're a fan, this is worth getting just for the documentary.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Website