For the longest time, Dennis Miller was known as the guy who could subreference unlike any other comedian, with tactical precision and timing long before anyone had heard of the Gilmore Girls. While some of the material may have been a bit redundant, he certainly put a spin to it unlike any other.
Then the events of September 11 happened, and the predominant opinion is that Miller went for smart comic (and a failed stint on Monday Night Football) to a Fox News loving, Democratic/liberal l…athing flunkie, paid for by the Bush administration. And when you watch the comic’s most recent stand-up special All In, he certainly has a slant to his humor (which is only fair, I mean really, watch Comedy Central anytime after 11 each weeknight for the other side of the aisle). The sad part is that Miller has done a better job articulating the war on terror than a lot of people in the administration has, but I’d say that’s a larger testament to the inefficiency of government than anything else.
Filmed in Las Vegas, All In starts off with Miller’s observations on current world events along with the obligatory swipe at things on planes, trains and automobiles. About halfway in, he starts in on some of the politically liberal sacred cows in America (like Harry Reid and Al Sharpton, but really, they are easy targets) before going into a larger rant about the 2008 presidential race. Contrary to a lot of conservatives (though eerily similar to some of my thoughts on the topic), Miller supports gay marriage, as regulating love is silly and impractical in thought and exercise. He also thinks that Hillary Clinton might have a solid shot of securing the presidential election, provided her husband could keep it together. Off topic, P.J. O’ Rourke had a great quote about government and Les Clintons back when they were in power. Government should keep its hands to itself and mind its own business. Specifically, Hillary should mind her own business while Bill keeps his hands to himself. But I digress.
At the end of the day, the preconceptions about Miller are simply based on political ideology, and while his material has changed through the years, the wit hasn’t diminished and is still surprisingly sharp.
In a bit of a surprise, All In is presented in anamorphic fashion. Go figure, the most recent Lewis Black special gets bupkis on HBO, and this gets widescreen. Miller looks OK (if not showing his age a bit) and the almost fixed point on the stage doesn’t result in any motion issues and whatnot.
Dolby 2 channel stereo. That’s about right, all things considered, I mean, why bother listening to other people laugh in your rear speakers, unless it’s a club, so you can get the cigarettes lighting, the glasses clinking and random other ambient noises.
Zip-ola. Zip-o-rama. But hey, it’s a standup special, there’s not much to expect here.
Miller is still funny, regardless of whether or not he provides the usual bland “Bushitler” arguments that other comics do. Granted, HBO will probably reair this thing dozens of times in the next six weeks, but it’s worth catching at least once or twice to judge whether or not Miller still has it.