Judge Roy Hrab never mixes comedy with standing-up.
What do you get when you cram 8 of today's hottest comics onto one disc?
This collection from Comedy Central presents a very mixed bag of routines from 8 stand-up comedians who appeared on Comedy Central Presents between 1999 and 2005. Each act is a little over 20 minutes long. So, what do we have here? The results are decidedly mixed.
Lewis Black: I am no fan of Black (Lewis Black: Unleashed). I find his
bombastic, rant-like delivery grating after a few minutes. He does his usual
shtick here, including observations on the Super Bowl half-time show and
commercials, religion, and the state of music. If you like Black, you'll like
this. I did not.
Dane Cook: Why is Cook (Good Luck
Chuck) popular? He riffs about his dreams of wanting to be a rock star, a
snake (?), and the Alien from Aliens (he actually does a dead-on
impression of the Alien). Other material includes bits on the DMV, church, and,
I must admit, a pretty funny spot about working at a Burger King drive-through.
There are some laughs here, but I find Cook's hyperactive act and shouting
Jeff Dunham: Ventriloquist acts still exist? Who knew? Dunham (Delta Farce) trots out a series of
characters: the nerdish Melvin ("the Superhero Guy"), the manic and
Muppet-like Peanut, José Jalapeño (a jalapeño pepper with a
sombrero and mustache), and Walter, a grumpy and sour-faced old man. I didn't
really get into the act, partially because I didn't find the material funny, but
also because of the way Dunham's performance is filmed; note to Comedy Central:
The illusion of a ventriloquist act is shattered when the camera goes in too
close on the ventriloquist's face.
Jim Gaffigan: I am a Gaffigan (Jim
Gaffigan: Beyond The Pale) fan and saw him perform live earlier this year.
For those who know Gaffigan, the classic "Hot Pocket" routine is not
here, but he does talk about buying bottled water, the Manatee, and his
laziness. This routine isn't as well developed as his current material, but it
is solid and the best on this DVD.
Mitch Hedberg: The inclusion of Hedberg (Dr. Katz, Professional
Therapist) is odd. I say this because the DVD case states that the disc
contains "8 of today's hottest comics." Hedberg died of a drug
overdose on March 2005. His well-known surrealist/bizarre observational comedic
style is very much on display here. Hedberg makes remarks on why escalators can
never break, his hatred of turtlenecks, and why receipts for doughnut purchases
are unnecessary. It is a good routine.
Demetri Martin: This is an odd routine. I think the problem is that Martin's
(Demetri Martin. Person.)
delivery sounds too polished. It sounds like he has memorized his routine and is
just reciting material. Nothing appears spontaneous. This may be a result of
this performance being his first special, but I'm not familiar with his work, so
I'm not sure. Another problem, for me anyways, is Martin's over reliance on
gimmicks (i.e., a flip chart and a weird musical/performance) that appear to be
done for novelty rather than comedic value.
Carlos Mencia: Mencia (Mind Of Mencia: Uncensored Volume One) is very
loud. Very, very loud. Why? I'm not sure. This routine not politically correct
and is filled with racial jokes (e.g., Asians, Arabs, and Hispanics), and
observations about living in America and 9/11. It did not connect with me.
Brian Regan: This is a solid workmanlike performance by Regan (Brian Regan: Standing Up). He makes
cracks about food, exercise, healthy living, and his optometrist. It is the most
"standard" comedic routine on the set.
This collection will not bowl you over and, on balance, the routines are weak. However, comedy is extremely subjective and I know that many will disagree with my ratings of the performances. So, take a gander if you want. Still, at best, this is only worth renting.
The video and audio presentations are fine for the purposes of the material. After all, this is stand-up comedy.
There are a limited number of extras, comprised of short clips from The Colbert Report, Lil' Bush, The Sarah Silverman Program, and South Park. Nothing memorable to report here.
Bottom line: If this truly represents the "Best" of Comedy Central Presents then the state of stand-up comedy in America is in trouble.
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Studio: Comedy Central
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