Judge Brett Cullum has never gone on a B&E, but he does like to kick doors in.
30 days, 20 shows, 4 comics, 1 bus, an entire country.
Dane Cook's Tourgasm was an HBO reality series that followed Dane Cook (Employee of the Month), Gary Gulman (Last Comic Standing 2), Jay Davis (8 Guys), and Robert Kelly (Dating Games) as they toured the country in a big bus bringing comedy to twenty cities in less than a month. It aired on the cable channel in the summer of 2006, and it was a one-off series of only nine episodes that chronicled the experience. The biggest problem with the show is a simple fact—nobody can be funny twenty-four hours a day. The truth is comics save "funny" for the stage, and the rest of a tour is sleeping, being cranky, and drinking. Doing a show documenting the tour is not going to be as funny as the show itself. Another problem is the old "reality shuffle" where the show's producers struggle to create drama when there isn't any. The guys seem to get along, and yet the editing tries to achieve friction and fights when there doesn't seem to be much to work with. Tourgasm is interesting as a documentary of what it's like to tour with comics, but it fails as a funny show. That doesn't mean the show is not entertaining, just in a different way you would expect. It expresses the mind-numbing tedium of touring very well. Cities blur by, and it seems all you see are chain restaurants, a bus, and the same guys over and over.
HBO must have a crazy team of design elves working night and day on its innovative packaging. Lately, every series I get from them looks incredible in the box, and Dane Cook's Tourgasm is no exception. Three discs are housed in a metal tin case that is still a standard size. Graphics look clear on the cover, and it feels super sturdy. It's like the show comes in its own bus! Brilliant stuff. The DVDs contain widescreen, super-clear transfers even though it's all documentary footage of varying quality, a fine stereo audio mix delivers the conversations, and enough extras to make anyone satisfied. There are full cast commentaries on all nine episodes with all the comics, and often these tracks are funnier than the show they are talking about. The nine episodes are on two discs, and bonus featurettes are housed on the final one. Don't get too excited about the twenty shorts, because those are actually promotional spots for the series and heavily redundant. The rest of the featurettes are further interviews and montages, which prove solid enough.
Here's the basic rundown—each episode you get twenty-two minutes of tour footage that attempts to be a reality show, and then a final five minutes of standup footage. Dane Cook's Tourgasm is nowhere near as funny as it should be, but it is an interesting look at what it's like to tour with Dane. The biggest issue is people are going to expect sidesplitting funny, and that is not what you get. The guys are grating, but anyone gets on your nerves on a thirty day road trip. You get to watch them juggle boredom, ego, and trying to win over a new audience every night. Keep your expectations in check, admire the cool packaging, and you'll be set. This isn't a great reality television series, but it is an okay documentary of Dane Cook flanked with three hanger-ons as they navigate the business of being funny. Problem is we see the work more than we see the result, but it does come in a metal case. Sometimes isn't cool packaging enough? Well, at least they tried. Maybe it's not the world's best reality show, but it looks good on the shelf.
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