Directed By: Comedy Central
Starring: John Oliver
What can you say about a DVD when the most entertaining part is the menu? It’s mildly entertaining, the menu that is, it made me smile a time or two, but compared to the feature it’s a riot.
Moving on to the feature. It’s fifty five minutes of stand up comedy from John Oliver. John Oliver is a British comic who’s lately has been doing bits on The Daily Show. Now Comedy Central has turned him loose with his own Special and DVD. The show starts with a bit of banter about Anglo American relations, it’s clever and amusing and after watching the menu till it started to repeat I was prepared to laugh, but I never did. What starts out promising quickly dissolves into smugness and condescension. Often I was just lost. I suppose this is supposed to be satire, but I thought I could recognize satire and I don’t see much here. Maybe a glimmer here and there but every time I thought I saw something it was quickly squashed by a steaming pile of hyperbole. Again, I enjoy hyperbole but the smugness and self righteousness smothered any life out of the material.
Luckily the feature is only fifty five minutes long, so I pushed on through to the end. The cruel part was that two or three times there was a hint of hope, but every time I thought “the last bit was lame but this one is starting out okay” I was disappointed. What started out sounding interesting would veer off into absurdity, the kind that isn’t funny. More often than that though each new bit started out just as flat as the previous one ended.
Part of the act was an audio visual performance displayed on a large screen that served as the backdrop for the stage. This was a neat tool and if the material had not been so bad would have been a nice enhancement. One of the better bits of the show is when Andy Salztman is wheeled out on the stage in what has to be the biggest prop ever used in a stand up act. Again if the material was any better this would have a clever addition to the show, but it just falls as flat as the rest.
Maybe this DVD slipped through a crack in the space-time continuum from an alternate reality where the physical laws that determine what’s funny and what’s not is totally different than our reality. That theory holds water for a while, after all the audience is laughing, but maybe they are just being polite. Plus the case is labeled Region 1 not Region ¿ which pretty much torpedoes the alternate universe theory. Which is a relief, I wouldn’t want to see anything else that slipped in from that universe.
The video is presented in wide screen format. It’s bright and crisp, the colors are great with deep rich blacks. There was some slight aliasing but less than normal and I never noticed any other artifacts that would distract from the content, which in this case would have actually been welcome.
The audio is presented in your choice of Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound or Dolby Stereo. English only with no subtitles though Closed Captioning is available. The sound is simply but effectively mixed. The audio is always distinct and clear.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The DVD comes in an Amaray case with the locking tabs. The artwork is a montage of John Oliver and the backdrop screens he uses in the show. The copy accurately describes the material, well except for how bad it is and I don’t think anybody would really expect it to be that honest. It’s probably happened before but this is a first for me: the bonus materials are actually better than the main feature. So if you get this from somebody as a gift, and they don’t still have the receipt, your not totally out of luck. There are several clips of John’s bits from The Daily Show. These are actually entertaining as is the video of a radio interview with Andy Zaltzman where they expound on a multitude of topics. Most puzzling though is thirty minutes of material recorded at the UCB Theater in New York of John trying out material for the show. There is a good bit of funny material in there, material that is much better than the stuff in the feature. It’s almost like he culled fifty five minutes of the worst stuff out of his act and then forgot which was the keeper pile and which was the flush pile.
Save your money, I don’t care how much they discount this one it’s not worth it.
Overall (Not an Average) 3/10
The Movie 2/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 3/10