Judge Erich Asperschlager is an undecided viewer.
Thanks for the memories!
We're living in frightening times, and I'm not talking about the economy. With the presidential election just around the corner, the comedians of this country are facing a serious crisis: as of January 2009, they won't have President Bush to kick around anymore. While there's still time, though, Comedy Central Salutes George W. Bush is the perfect way for the network that benefited most from our 43rd president (except perhaps Fox News) to cash in.
Salutes collects various episodes and performances from Comedy Central programs ranging from 2001 to 2008:
• South Park: "Mystery of the Urinal Deuce"
• Lil' Bush: "Iraq/First Kiss"
• That's My Bush: "An Aborted Dinner Date"
• Root of All Evil: "Paris Hilton vs. Dick
• Highlights from Last Laugh 2007 and Last Laugh
• Comedy Central Presents
You might see this as a last-minute cash-in on the departure of an unpopular president, and you'd be right. Let's face it: in three months, Bush is leaving and all those reels of stand-up material and sketch comedy are darn-near worthless. One reason people like to laugh at national leadership is because it relieves frustration caused by decisions that are out of our control. While the effects of Bush's policies will be felt for years to come, that doesn't mean a joke about him mispronouncing something will be funny next year. The best scenario for Bush-focused comedians is that "W" stays as visible post-presidency as Bill Clinton has. It's no wonder this DVD's cover illustration is of a yard sale. Everything must go!
Putting aside why Comedy Central would want to release this DVD before the election, how is the actual content? Is it worth the money? It depends a lot on how much you like laughing at Bush. Arguably the best thing on the disc is the South Park episode, which is probably why it's first. Of course, if you're a fan of the show, you probably already own the 10th season on DVD. I don't know if any Lil' Bush fans already own the first season DVDs, but mostly because I don't know if Lil' Bush has any fans. I'm certainly not one, and watching the pilot episode right after South Park, it's clear why the series falters—it's just a pale imitation of the smart satire Park does so well.
That's My Bush is the set's biggest surprise. Parker and Stone's concept of crossing The West Wing with Leave it to Beaver might sound odd (and apparently was odd enough that the show couldn't make it past eight episodes), but it works surprisingly well. "An Aborted Dinner Date" is as disturbing as you'd expect from Parker and Stone—I'm thinking of the creepy aborted fetus puppet who heads up the pro-life contingent. It's also funny, less for any specific jokes than for the overall concept. My favorite thing about the episode is that Timothy Bottoms doesn't play Bush for the obvious laughs. He squints a lot, but he's more "dumb sitcom husband" than "dumb world leader."
At the bottom of the pile are Lewis Black's Root of All Evil, highlights from 2006 & 2007's year-end Laugh Out Loud specials, and a few stand-up comedy performances. You wouldn't think it was this hard to find good Bush material on Comedy Central. I like Lewis Black, but this particular Root of All Evil episode is a stretch—it's about Dick Cheney, not George Bush. I wonder why Comedy Central didn't just dig up some classic Daily Show material. Could it be because they'd rather promote Black's show?
At an hour and 40 minutes, Salutes would have been a good length for a collection of mini segments. As a bunch of full-on episodes, though, it feels short. Not just because there's got to be better Bush-related material in the Comedy Central vaults, but also because this disc has no extras. Well, actually, that's not true. There is a fold-out poster of the same illustration on the cover, if that sort of thing excites you.
I can't blame Comedy Central for trying to get as much mileage as possible out of George W. Bush before he leaves office, but that doesn't mean you should buy this DVD. The best material is available elsewhere, and some of it (I'm looking at you Mr. Black) is barely related to the subject at all. If, however, you really need a middling cross-section of one network's content to convince someone too young to remember the Bush presidency that, yes, it really was that crazy—well then, here you go.
I'd like to request a recount.
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