While you're looking for the hookers tomorrow night, Appellate Judge Rob Lineberger suggests you look for a decent comedy club, too.
From one of the executive producers of Last Comic Standing
Things have gotten much too polite since the last time I was in a comedy club. Maybe the audience was told to be on their best behavior because a DVD was being filmed. Maybe they were hand-picked extras, or maybe a row of machine-gun-wielding fascists was standing just off camera. Whatever the reason, the non-organic audience response in this DVD makes it hard to judge the effectiveness of Jeff Cesario's routine. You Can Get a Hooker Tomorrow Night is peopled with audience members who are groomed to a fine gloss, all sitting down like beatific little lambs. They don't laugh so much as golf clap after each joke, and the color reactions captured for the camera are exaggerated. Where are the drunken hecklers? The timid, "can I laugh at this" squares?
Oddity of the venue aside, Jeff Cesario delivers a traditional, edgy—but not overly raunchy—routine with riffs on race, sexual orientation, marriage, eating, and growing old. There were long stretches that felt flat to me, mustering a small "huh, that's clever" every few minutes. But to his credit, Cesario is able to pull himself out of these doldrums and land some real laughs to reset the meter. For example, his take on a boxer being knocked queer is really funny.
It wasn't until the 33-minute mark that a sense of real electricity sparked the performance. Cesario stepped back from his prepared material and went to the audience for volunteers. Untethered and thinking on his feet, Cesario truly connected to the moment. The crowd becomes noticeably more animated, and the performance feels fresh.
The routine is pretty old in comedy years, hailing back to the dawn of the Bush presidency, when J-Lo was a hot topic around the water cooler. His material is not overly offensive (nor is it groundbreaking), so you can show this to a wide audience of adults without much danger of being lynched. Cesario has won Emmys for his writing on Dennis Miller Live and is clearly committed to a life of comedy. I suspect he is more accustomed to writing than performing, because many of Jeff's lines whiz by too quickly to absorb the humor. Even so, he seems to relish the stage, and seems comfortable in front of the crowd.
Goldhil presents the DVD in a nicely saturated anamorphic print that reveals every nuance of Cesario's expression and the texture of the rough brick wall behind him. Frequent cuts to the audience reveal an oddly perfect assortment of human beings while providing contrast to the static stage shots. The audio comes in a stereo and surround mix. The surround mix is slightly muffled and front-heavy, but provides an immersive quality that improves the ambiance. The stereo mix is perfectly legible, with each word coming across cleanly (at the expense of muted audience reactions).
The deleted scenes are interesting because they provide a more cohesive idea of what was going on. A running exchange between Cesario and two coeds is trimmed because he gets into a rut of calling their friends dorks, which is one step above "your mama" as the standard playground comeback.
You Can Get a Hooker Tomorrow Night has some laughs, particularly if you prefer straight-ahead comedy without any hint of surrealism. Cesario capably panders to the common denominator, which makes his routine approachable if…well, routine. I think the circumstances of the filming might have dulled the edge somewhat. I'd like to see what Cesario would do with a contingent of drunken rednecks assailing him from the left flank.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Goldhil Home Media
• Deleted Scenes
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