It seems that most people have strong opinions when it comes to Ellen DeGeneres. Of course, when you make yourself the first openly gay character on television, those opinions can be expected. Some feel that she is courageous, bravely stepping into the forefront of the gay rights movement. Others feel that her lifestyle is immoral, and that she should be shamed of her actions. Personally, I feel that it is unfortunate that her status as a gay woman is an issue at all. The desire of any true performer should be for th… world to discuss their art, and not their personal life. (Of course, she freely made an issue of her sexuality herself, but I digress.) Simply saying that Ellen is “funny” shortchanges her talents.
Ellen is not just funny, she’s smart. Very, very smart. This stand-up performance takes her stream-of-consciousness style of storytelling to a new extreme. Topics segue from one into another at breakneck speed, forcing the listener to simply hang on and enjoy the comic ride. Her theme for this show (which happens to be filled with all-new material) is life in the 21st century, and she captures its nuances and frustrations flawlessly, from cell phone etiquette to news and information overload. Someday, I will be able to show this disc to my children to explain what life was like at the turn of the new century.
Audio quality is adequate, but certainly not spectacular. As with most spoken word discs, English 2.0 is the only option available. The dialog lacks the punch that I was hoping for, and the dynamic range is narrow. Applause and assorted crowd noise falls flat as well, making the piece sound much like it did during its original television broadcast. Dialog is clear, however, and I never had any problems following the conversation. This soundtrack is certainly nothing special, but it gets the job done.
The only drawback to the video on this disc is that it is presented in a Full Screen format. Besides that, this transfer is absolutely perfect. The colors are vivid, and the lighting is top shelf. Flesh tones are simply amazing… some of the best that I have ever seen. I might even venture to say that this performance looks better on disc than it did in person. Absolutely nothing is dull in this presentation. Even black elements look deep, with a polish as rich as a Marine’s patent leather dress shoes. In a word… flawless.
In an effort to not go completely sans-extras, HBO has added a text biography to this disc. This bio is surprisingly thorough, but that’s all there is. No trailers, no backstage footage, not even an advertisement for her other DVD titles. Something is always better than nothing, but a little something is all you get. I know that this is a generally-accepted practice on the stand-up comedy market, but I would still like to see more, especially since the feature is just an hour long.
As with her other stand-up offering, The Beginning, Ellen DeGeneres is just too smart for words in her new comedy special. Her ability to seamlessly combine humor and a message of goodwill is a gift that few others possess. Though this disc may be a bit short on content, what is here is of the highest quality, and the fantastic video presentation makes up for the average soundtrack. If you are a fan of Ellen, you can’t go wrong with the Here and Now.
Special Features List