Judge David Johnson thinks he could be a stand-up comic—if only he could remember the obscenities he learned in junior high.
Dirty, yes—but funny dirty? Ah, no.
Stand-up comics occupy different places in a variety of spectrums. Some are filthy-mouthed, some work clean, some are political, some perfect the "did you ever notice" routine, some use racial humor, and some talk about cookies and detergent.
Oh, and some are funny and some are not.
The comedians spotlighted on National Lampoon Live: Down and Dirty fall into the latter category. The program brings five comics, known more for their potty mouths and loose tongues than their funniness—or so I would assume, judging by what I've seen.
Hosted by Rich Vos, probably best-known from the first season of Last Comic Standing, the 75-minute stand-up marathon features Paula Bel, Craig Gass, Joe Diaz, Daniel Dugar, and Brian Holzman.
Vos opens the show with the funniest set that night by far, which isn't really saying much, as he relied mainly on relentlessly insulting the audience. But he did sport enough bona fide jokes to make his presence bearable (even welcome), even after the other comics took the stage. He also set the tone for the brand of comedy to follow: that of the straight-up, filthy-mouthed, "screw 'em all" ilk.
Paula Bel was the first one out, and unloaded some marginally funny material about lifeguards. Her best stuff was on the characterization of perfect-figured lifeguards in Hollywood, and she actually managed to glean some okay humor from the topic. Besides Vos, she's probably the high point.
Next up was Craig Gass, an impression-happy comic, who overused a contrived bit featuring different personalities having sex with other personalities. Fairly amusing at first, but tedious as it was dragged out.
Third was Daniel Dugar, whose act was nigh-indiscernible amidst the incessant profanity. If this guy said something funny, I missed it.
Joe Diaz took the stage next. He looked relatively familiar, but recognition slipped into the abyss of my mind where all the "that guys" go to dwell. He proved to be the crudest of the night, and unleashed some vile, self-deprecating humor. WARNING: Do not watch his description of a fat guy shaving sex while eating your dinner.
Brian Holtzman batted fifth, and brought the same angry, swearing cynical routine to the audience—who had already endured that same shtick for the past hour. The guy did have some okay stuff; but again, the lack of substance bored me.
Look, stand-up comedy is a tough gig, and I can respect anyone with the Grape Nuts to stand in front of oft-hostile, oft-inebriated total strangers and try to make them laugh.
I do have less respect, though, for comics who rely on the shock value of saying anything and everything vulgar instead of actually developing some authentically funny material. That's what I felt as I suffered through this disc. These folks sure had the "dirty" part down in their act, but I could go hang around the outside of a sports bar at 3 AM and get more bang for my buck in the vulgarity department. That being said, I figure I'd laugh more if someone got on stage and read passages from an oncology textbook.
Please, someone, anyone, say something funny!
Like the content, the disc itself boasts style over substance. The feature sports a widescreen transfer that is clean and nimble, as well as (surprisingly) a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround audio track that adds little aside from doling out some audience ambient sound.
The only bonus material is a stupid "on-the-street" cavort with a National "Lampooner." (Read: some guy making an ass out of himself with a bunch of strangers. Hey, isn't that what I just watched?!)
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