A bumbling president, an evil vice president, and two would-be commanders-in-chief walk into a concert hall with comedian Jimmy Dore—and Judge Bill Gibron isn't all that impressed.
He's a Citizen…Not a Partisan!
In the hierarchy of working political comedians, it's hard to place Jimmy Dore. He is definitely not as recognizable as Bill Maher, Lewis Black, Jon Stewart, or Stephen Colbert—and frankly, it's fairly easy to see why. Dore deals in what best can be described as easily digestible workingman ideologies. He's not a pundit pitbull like Maher and Black, and he lacks the social satire and smarm of Stewart and Colbert. Instead, he will take a subject—say the War on Terror—and boil it down into a recognizable collection of fencepost clichés. Then he will try to twist the topic, spin doctoring it so that he sounds novel and incensed when all he's really doing is delivering the typical slam. Toss in a bit of mugging and some vocal affectation and you've got Dore's stand-up strategy. It's not a bad way to make people laugh, but in these days of dire institutional rhetoric and staunch partisan posturing, the high, quasi-wholesome road may not be the best avenue to audience awareness.
Though he doesn't possess the kind of country rube retardation of the Blue Collar Comedy guys, there is still something very NASCAR pit crew about his overall approach. Citizen Jimmy doesn't take on the powers that be. Instead, it trips lightly around the delicacy of our Democracy without ever going for the critical killing move. Take the issue of gay marriage. Dore mentions it a couple of times in his routine, but never with substance. Instead, it's a verbal cue, a half-joke thrown out there to indicate how fear mongering and phony "conservatives" can be. Similarly, our current president is name-dropped, but barely attacked head-on. When he does give the Commander-in-Chief some heat, it's of the "Boy, is he dumb" variety. Instead, Citizen Jimmy's main conceit centers around pot. Dore clearly loves the wacky weed. He starts out the show referencing reefer; by the end, he's gone into full-blown Jimmy Cliff mode (read: "legalize it and I will advertise it").
Let's face it—Jimmy Dore is no Mort Sahl. Instead, he's very similar to the '60s deadpan provocateur Pat Paulsen. His line delivery is straightforward, his punchlines accented with what can best be described as a little Paul Lynde-like smirk. It's his big visual symbol that the gag is officially over. Of course, one imagines that he wouldn't do it if the audience didn't respond, but the braying hyenas brought in to see this show are clearly enamored of Dore's amusement tic. Everything he says—from the occasional swear word to the offhand comment about the Log Cabin Republicans—gets the guffaw equivalent of a standing O. Sadly, all this critic could think of was "Oh, brother." It's not that Dore isn't talented, or able to work a room with ease. Nor does it have anything to do with his standard softball approach to the world. It's just that, after eight years of the Bush Administration's own jawdropping comedy of errors, anyone not reciprocating with a literal rapier wit is simply out of their league.
Image Entertainment's DVD presentation of Citizen Jimmy is fine on tech specs and lacking in contextual bonuses. Over the course of 52 minutes—about 45 of show and 7 of sex-tinged encore—the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image is bright and clear. The video quality is quite stunning at times, looking high definition on even a standard TV set. As for the sound quality, there's not much that can be done with a Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 mix. Dore's words are easy to understand, and his onstage ambience is captured well. Still, this is not the kind of immersive offering one gets with, say, a concert presentation. The total lack of extras is frustrating, since Dore is definitely not a high-profile comic. Some information on his past, or his Off-Broadway "hit" (according to the cover art) The Marijuana-Logues would have been nice.
If you're looking for someone who says he rocks the boat while actually keeping the critical catamaran upright and steady, Jimmy Dore is your guy. In an era when taking on the powers that be is more important than ever, he'll gladly sit on the sidelines, smoking a J.
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