Comedy Central Round-Up No. 2
Hannibal Buress, Reggie Watts, Paul F. Tompkins
Reviews by: Bill Jones
When it comes to stand-up comedy on television, Comedy Central more or less has the market cornered. And the network’s DVD and CD departments have been pushing out plenty of the television specials in the uncensored and uncut format (really, the right way to watch a comedian’s set) for home consumption. Pads & Panels decided to help its readers wade through some of Comedy Central’s latest offerings.
The DVD: Animal Furnace (Also on CD)
The latest stand-up special from Hannibal Buress, Animal Furnace may be Comedy Central’s best release of the year to date. The Chicago native has been a writer on Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, which speaks to his background in comedy. But for once the quotes on the back of the box actually go a long way in letting people know why he’s worth checking out, or at least the list of names that provided those quotes — Chris Rock, Jim Gaffigan, Demetri Martin and Mike Birbiglia. Toss in dash of Kyle Kinane (not on the box), too, and it’s easy to get an idea of both the quality and style that comes with his performance. With an infectious smile, Buress appears to have a great time on stage as he launches into stories about the TSA, stolen credit cards, Canada, college newspapers and even food. The CD doesn’t deviate from the DVD, but it’s better in my opinion to have the visual in his case. The DVD also includes and awesome bonus feature chronicling the week before recording his special.
The DVD: Laboring Under Delusions
Paul F. Tompkins has a really awesome mustache. He also happens to be really funny. His latest one-hour special has one main focus — jobs. Tompkins delves into his work in a Beta-only video story, as well as his trying jobs as a hat salesman, an actor and host of a VH1 show. Tompkins’ material feels traditional, but he has evolved into another guy who, much like Patton Oswalt, seems to be out there just telling stories more than relying on set-ups and punchlines. Tompkins seems fully confident in the material onstage, and he delivers it like a pro. And it deserves mention that he’s got a totally fantastic backdrop for the stage in this performance. The stand-up is solid from start to finish, but unfortunately the special features are a bit of a letdown. The commentary is one drawn-out joke, and the others don’t offer anything significant, either. Still, Laboring Under Delusions is worth checking out for the special itself.
The DVD/CD Combo: A Live at Central Park
It’s hard to really know what to make of Reggie Watts, and I think that’s how he likes it. He does comedy that’s not really comedic (at least in a traditional sense) and music that, while having some skill on display, doesn’t really impress. It leaves behind a set that doesn’t really do much of anything significant, and yet the crowd seems to lose their shit over it. Again, I think going to the packaging on this one is a help, though for the opposite reason. The inside, there is a poem written to Watts by Sarah Silverman (who I’ve never found particularly funny). It, too, fails to be either funny or display poetic talent. And maybe I’m just becoming an old dick about comedy, but Watts just comes across more as someone hipsters latched onto and pushed as cutting edge than someone leading a new wave of comedy. The CD features more of a traditional, full stand-up set, going back and forth between “jokes” and “songs.” The DVD takes bits of the performances and places them between skits that ponder whether or not the Central Park performance is all just a dream. Odds are it actually happened; I’m just not sure why.
For more info: comedycentral.com
Pads and Panels received copies of the DVDs courtesy of the studio for review purposes.