Judge Victor Valdivia got some ice cream. You don't get none. 'Cause you're on the welfare.
Our review of Eddie Murphy: Delirious, published January 31st, 2007, is also available.
"Tito, get me some tissue! Jermaine, stop teasing!"
Oh, Anchor Bay, where would we be without your incessant and merciless double dipping? Wealthier and less cluttered, certainly, but what collections we have! Three versions of Manhunter! Five versions of Army of Darkness! Now, for those of us who were not waiting, a new version of an already available standup comedy classic, Eddie Murphy: Delirious: 25th Anniversary Edition, with fancy new packaging and a new subtitle. That's not accurate, of course; Delirious was originally recorded and aired on HBO in 1983, so the real 25th anniversary was in 2008, not 2009. No matter; marketing gimmicks need not respect actual arithmetic or chronological facts, not when there's money to be made. Certainly, many fans will be impressed to learn that for this reissue, all of the content from the previous DVD edition has been ported over, split over two discs, and appended with a whole new featurette. They'll be much less impressed when they learn that the new piece recycles lengthy clips from both Delirious itself and an interview that's already on the DVD and contains precious little new material. Also, Delirious itself doesn't look or sound any sharper than it did on the original DVD release. Still, though, there's no denying it: that new packaging sure is pretty.
To be sure, Delirious is such a landmark in standup comedy that anyone who has even the slightest interest in the art form needs to have some version of it. In 1983, Eddie Murphy was a huge star from Saturday Night Live and his film debut 48 Hrs but he was not then known as a stand-up. Delirious not only made Murphy's name as a comic, it arguably made him the most influential comic since Richard Pryor in the '70s. Much of the reason was Murphy's staggering multitalented ability. His impressions of stars like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson are flawless. His gift for physical comedy, demonstrated in his routine about children dancing when they get ice cream, is undeniable. His incisive observational routines, especially the ones about his family barbecue, easily rank with the best material offered by Bill Cosby or George Carlin.
More than anything else, though, what made Delirious so important is that Murphy made comedy cool. Clad in a red leather outfit, strutting onstage, displaying lightning-fast wit and a demeanor that was cocky without being overbearing, Murphy made standup comedy look as sexy and exciting as a rock concert. He was the first rock star comedian, the one who inspired an entire generation of comics who felt distanced from older comics like Cosby, Pryor, and Carlin. His rapid-fire delivery and mixture of charm and swagger pretty much laid the groundwork for the entire Def Comedy Jam era and the hip-hop-comics who followed in his wake. If his aggressive humor could sometimes come off as offensive—the routines centered on gays seem even more homophobic now than they did back then—it can also be said that in that regard, he really was, for better and for worse, the defining comic of the '80s. Anyone who was around back then recalls what an event Delirious was and how every subsequent standup performance was compared to it. Delirious redefined comedy so thoroughly that Murphy isn't exaggerating when he says elsewhere on this DVD that it contains virtually everything you see in stand-up comedy today.
So, yes, Delirious is a must for comedy fans. Most of those fans, however, already bought the 2007 DVD release. The audio and video transfers are identical to the earlier one. It's early-'80s video, so it looks a bit grainy and hazy and has a few glitches, but for the most part looks and sounds good enough for its age. Also ported over from the earlier release are the extras. There are two brief but amusing snippets cut from the original show, both of which show Murphy reacting to hecklers. There's also an interview with Byron Allen (34:24) which is surprisingly revealing. Though Allen is a notorious suck-up and Murphy tends to be rather cagey in interviews, this actually contains some interesting stories and thoughts about both Delirious and Murphy's standup career. The sole new extra, and supposedly the reason why fans should rush out to replace their earlier DVDs, is a new featurette called "The Making of Delirious" (28:11). It's nothing of the sort. Mixed in with lengthy clips from Delirious and lengthy excerpts from the Byron Allen interview are reminiscences from other comics who cite Delirious as an influence, such as Chris Rock, Katt Williams, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Cedric the Entertainer, and Martin Lawrence. These are all superficial, although that's probably a bit unfair, since each comic only gets to speak for a sentence or two. It's a puffy and forgettable extra that is not at all worth a whole new DVD reissue.
Eddie Murphy: Delirious: 25th Anniversary Edition, then, is an utterly redundant release. If you already own the previous DVD, don't bother spending for this new version; the new content isn't worth it. Even if you don't already own a copy of Delirious, however, it's not really worth getting this version. The list price for this edition is double that of the previous one, making it an extremely poor buy. Delirious is a must for anyone who wants to understand the art of standup comedy, but unless you're getting it for free, save some money and get the single-disc edition.
Eddie Murphy: Delirious is one hundred percent not guilty. Anchor Bay, on the other hand, is one hundred percent guilty of yet another unnecessary double-dip.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
Review content copyright © 2009 Victor Valdivia; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.