Judge Elizabeth Skipper will be here all week. Try the veal.
"All I can say is get ready to laugh and laugh and laugh…"
I'm ready! I'm waiting! Where are the laughs?
They say comedy is perishable, which would explain why I'm still waiting to laugh at Best of the Improv, a compilation of six "best-of" clip shows from A&E's An Evening at the Improv, which aired from 1982 through 1996. Because as far as I can tell, the comedy routines included in this six-disc set are all from the '80s…and all long past their expiration dates.
The comedians included on Best of the Improv are:
• Disc One
• Disc Two
• Disc Three
• Disc Four
• Disc Five
• Disc Six
I know what you're thinking: With such a star-studded line-up, what could possibly go wrong? That's exactly what I thought when I requested this set. I love stand-up comedy, and I love so many of these comedians, so why didn't I love Best of the Improv? Frankly, I can't give you a definitive answer. Perhaps it really is that these routines have outlasted their shelf life, that all comedy is perishable, even when it's not timely or topical. Perhaps it's that these comedians, while giants in their field now, were mere amateurs when they appeared on Improv and just weren't that good yet. Perhaps I just don't have a sense of humor.
Whatever the reason, I laughed only a few times during 360 minutes of stand-up comedy. Sure, a few comics made me chuckle—Paula Poundstone elicited a giggle or two; Ellen DeGeneres is always good for a guffaw; and Chris Rock was just beginning to come into his own—but three out of 57 just doesn't cut it.
Though not as painful as watching the menu graphics, unfortunately. Just because you're featuring comedy routines from the '80s doesn't mean you must borrow your technology from the decade as well. I could have created better menus with my Etch-a-Sketch. Thankfully, the transfers aren't quite as bad as the menus. That, of course, doesn't mean they're good either—just adequate. The full-frame video and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio are just good enough that they don't distract from the comedy…sadly.
Finally, the only extras on this set are one repeated preview for another comedy compilation, Funny Ladies, and text bios of the more well-known comedians.
With scant extras, lousy comedy, and nightmarish menus, I have no qualms about telling you to avoid this set like you would talent night at your local coffee shop. You might enjoy the routines more than I, but you'd be better off choosing your favorite comedians and investing in a few full-length specials.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Koch Vision
• Trailer for Funny Ladies
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