Standup comedians live interesting lives. The typical stand-up comic performs for fifteen to thirty minutes, two or three times a week. For many their sole purpose in life is to make people laugh. Many often suffer from depression when their acts bomb or they go through dry spells where they can’t get gigs or write new material. However, the best ones make their own breaks and find their way into their audience’s heart. Sometimes that can be accomplished through a MC. This MC or master of ceremonies can often take a grand event such as a tour that lasts 30 days & 30 nights and turn four men into superstars.
Vince Vaughn had a great idea. He would take four comics and tour thirty cities in thirty days from the Music Box Theater in Hollywood to the heartland of the United States. The four comedians would each be allowed their set. Among the four comics chosen was Ahmed Ahmed, a Middle Eastern comic who often uses his heritage to draw material for this act. He acted as the cornerstone for the other three comics.
These comics included John Caparulo, an Ohio native good ole boy with blue-collar comedy to match; Bret Ernst from New Jersey has a brash sense of humor who is very good with visual humor; and Sebastian Maniscalco is a fairly brand new comic from Chicago who at the time of this tour was still a waiter trying to make ends meet and waiting for his big break. Sebastian’s comedy is quite observational and detailed.
Vince also had other ideas that would help to make his tour memorable. In addition to playing in a bunch of different cities, he would enlist the help from several friends to do sketches in the show. These friends included Justin Long, Peter Billingsley, and Keir O’ Donnell among others. Finally, for the movie and eventual dvd; director Ari Sandel would have the not so enviable task of cutting six hundred hours of footage that included performance and behind the scenes material into a documentary that would show the heart of the tour and still be funny.
The film succeeds on being funny and even a tad inspirational. Each of the four comics is funny, with John Caparulo perhaps being the largest standout of the four. I did confuse Bret with Sebastian on occasion but when evaluated individually they both succeed. Ahmed is also extremely funny but I do wish he wouldn’t rely so much on the ethnic “I look like a terrorist” technique. Vince is an adequate MC and the sketches aren’t bad as the crowd really seems to get into them.
There is a lot of heart warming moments behind camera which include Sebastian’s rise to fame and the middle of the tour where they were forced to re-route dates due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. This lead them to Alabama where they visited a trailer park and gave away free tickets to many of the residents. What was so special about these residents? The fact that many were evacuees from New Orleans. Little things like that made this film more than just a simple documentary about four stand-up comics who toured thirty cities in thirty days.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. The film has moments where it is very clear and it has moments that are quite choppy and full of grain and artifact. There isn’t much consistency but that can be expected when the massive footage ran the gambit from show footage to handheld action in a tour bus.
The audio is provided in 5.1 English Dolby Digital and 2.0 Stereo Mix is also included. The sound stays in the center channel and tends not to deviate due to its documentary nature. As with any good comedic special, the dialog is clear and none of the accents hinder one’s ability to understand. Subtitles are also provided in English and Spanish.
- Automatic Trailers: Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-d, Run Fatboy Run, Semi-Pro, & Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay
- Feature Commentary: Producer Vince Vaughn & Executive Producer Frank Billingsley : One of two very strong commentaries, this one taking on Vince & Mr. Billingsley. Lots of good stuff, this one leans more to the production end and what it took to make this to dvd and the tour behind it.
- Feature Commentary: Director Ari Sandel, Comedians Bret Ernst, Sebastian Maniscalco, & Ahmed Ahmed : The other strong commentary, this one goes heavily into stories on the road and life as a comic. There is also some talk about the “directing”, but mostly it’s a good dose of story time. Only bad thing here is obviously no John Caparulo.
- Bonus Material 53:34: Ten different sections here making up a lot of extra material. Each of the comics gets a section along with the various sketches like Dinner For Two, Grease, I’m Not a Painter and a nice finish of Sweet Caroline. Call me crazy, I still want one complete show.
- The Tour 5:51: After the bonus material, we get a tiny piece about putting the tour together and how everybody knew everybody else. The moral of these featurettes? Get to know Ahmed Ahmed. Then your life will be set.
- The Making of Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show 6:00: So, what exactly does a director do for a stand-up comedy show documentary. Well this featurette will tell you what that is.
- Wild West Comedy Show (Behind the Scenes) 9:46: This final featurette goes into life on the road and what it is like to wake up with a camera in your face. More importantly what life is like to live with John Caparulo, very informative for women who think he’s hot or something. Key point, don’t steal his sandwich.
- Theatrical Trailer 2:29: The theatrical trailer of this fine flic which didn’t last that long and lead to a very limited showing. Why bother with a trailer?
Vince and his four comics achieve a great deal in a mere month of tour dates. They stay funny and stay real. Many people think of Vince and think he is just a Hollywood funny actor who is pulling a trick out of his hat to sell tickets and dvds. But there is real heart here and this documentary was made to show that. John Caparulo is the stand-out and it is fun to see his meager beginnings as a star is formed right before your eyes. The disc is fantastic on content containing two great commentaries and a wealth of bonus material. My only complaint or minor hope is that we get a disc in the future with a complete show. At times, the footage feels jaded and rips from city to city with very little gaps in-between. A comic’s greatest asset is the full range of his act not a single joke. So in the end, I do recommend this disc but more as a documentary on a stand-up comic and the road. If you are looking for a good comedy concert, I would suggest that you look for any of the four comics on this disc when they come to a city near you.
- DvdVerdict.com – “Their self deprecation after a bad gig is overt, while it is easy to imagine Vaughn shrugging his massive shoulders, saying a few choice words, and proceeding to the bar.”
- DvdFile.com – “Despite a mediocre transfer and a similarly limited audio presentation, the generous collection of bonus material and the overall film itself warrant a strong rental recommendation.”