I’ve gotta say, I love stand-up comedy. My first albums were George Carlin records, and I’d always listen to my Dad’s recorded tape of a Friar’s Club roast of Don Rickles, where four letter words would get dropped as often as the drinks in the room. Then it was on to Richard Pryor, then onto the R-rated genius of Sam Kinison and to a lesser extent, Andrew Dice Clay. And now, it’s Lewis Black, David Cross, Dave Attell and Robert Schimmel.
To understand the premise behind Dane Cook’s Tourgasm, I guess one has to better understand Dane Cook. For those that don’t, he is the stand-up flavor of the month right now, a man whose albums have sold like gangbusters, who has successfully utilized the internet to spread word of mouth about his material, and he is all over shows that the kids are watching. In March/April 2005, he rented a rock star bus and invited three comic friends of his (Jay Davis, Robert Kelly and Gary Gulman), and did a bit of a barnstorming tour of college campuses across the country, similar to what Kinison did with the so-called “Outlaws of Comedy” in the ’80s, as Cook’s tour was designed to get his friends some more exposure, while giving his fans a chance to check him out. Filmed over 30 days in 20 locations, the group of episodes (that presumably aired on HBO awhile back) was also a look into the personalities of each comic.
Now, I’ve seen all four-plus hours of this show, and I really respect the efforts that Cook goes to in keeping in touch with his fans. There are frequent signings after the show for fans, he answers emails and instant messages, he is as close to his people as possible. And I admire the intent to get his friends some needed time to branch out possibly on their own. But after these four or so hours, my opinion of Cook really hasn’t changed all that much. I came in with as little prejudice as possible, I watched his Vicious Circle special and saw him on the 2006 Teen Choice Awards many moons ago. And the guy isn’t funny. He’s got observational humor, and that humor is based more in physical mannerisms than actual jokes. I mean, take Lewis Black and his topical humor, and take Dane Cook, Lewis Black is the cool TV show that nobody watches, and Dane Cook is the comedic version of Friends. Everyone watches him, even if he isn’t funny. What the hell is that about? I tried a similar thing with Ellen DeGeneres awhile back when she came out of the closet. I tried to be without judgment, but just like Ellen, Dane Cook isn’t funny, so don’t say I’m prejudiced towards lesbians or really attractive mimbos.
And these specials that include his friends? Granted, there’s the occasional joke or two in there, and they may turn out to have better material long-term than Cook will, but they are basically yes men or flunkies, and are there to prop up their boy Dane. It’s kind of sad too, because the journey figures to start out interesting, but turns out into being an extended version of MTV Road Rules or something.
Dolby 2.0 for this tour, but it’s one of the better two channel productions, full of music and clear dialogue, and immersive audience noise, which it kinda has to have. And considering it’s basically stand-up dialogue, two channel mixes are all you should really have.
1.78:1 widescreen for the HDTV junkies in the room. Everything replicates pretty well, the handheld stuff is slick, slicker than some handheld film scenes I’ve seen recently, and there’s no overall picture problems to gripe about.
I’ve gotta give them credit, Cook and gang put together a respectable group of bonus material that serves as a worthy follow-up to this set. The group provide commentaries on each of the episodes, however there may be a little overkill on these, as the peaks and valleys of pace haunt them, and with four stand-up comics, there’s dead air on the tracks sometimes, which is a disappointment. Overall, having the commentaries is better than not having them. Next is a separate disc of bonus material, some of it is shorter, as there’s a montage of Kelly’s profanity and Davis’ man-weeping, but other material, like the comics’ thoughts on hecklers and how to deal with them, is a little too long for the feature, and each comic shares details on how they got started, which provides a half hour of decent biographical information. There’s also twenty short films that are basically highlight reels from the tour itself, and most of the footage is in the show in one form or another.
Fans of Dane Cook will enjoy this package that I’m sure is pretty affordable and packs a punch for your dollar. However for those who like a little more spice in their comedy, this is a little on the self-indulgent side and about an hour too long. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go listen to my Louis CK albums.