I work a lot, so I don't have much time for TV. As such, I do not have cable or satellite. That's right—no cable or satellite. Instead I get my local stations with a plain old antenna and rely on DVDs and Blu-ray discs for entertainment. As you can imagine, I get very excited when Comedy Central releases its content on disc—not only because I don't have access to the Comedy Central cable channel, but because I haven't seen most of the content and of course, I love comedy. I can always use a good laugh after sitting in front of a computer all day and Comedy Central has yet to disappoint. Hence my glee when I received The Best of Comedy Central Presents II.
The Best of Comedy Central Presents II (Uncensored)
Back in 1998, Comedy Central began the Comedy Central Presents series where it would feature an up-and-coming comic, giving them thirty minutes to deliver a stand-up set of their best material. The series has been wildly popular with the Comedy Central audience and recently finished it's twelfth season back in April of this year (2008). To gain an even wider audience, Comedy Central began packaging the best of these performances together on DVD back in February with the release of "The Best of Comedy Central Presents I." The latest release in the DVD series is The Best of Comedy Central Presents II. One of the best things about this series is that it is totally uncensored, which also means it's unrated. This material is definitely not for the kiddies. And if you are easily offended (meaning you can't take joke), you probably won't enjoy the performances. But for everyone else, there are lots of laughs to be had.
The Best of Comedy Central Presents II showcases performances from eight different comedians: Dave Attell, Mike Birbiglia, Frank Caliendo, Zach Galifianakis, Stephen Lynch, Patton Oswalt, Nick Swardson, and Daniel Tosh. Each set is about twenty minutes long and presents parts of the overall performances, which is really my one main gripe about this title. We're only getting parts of the total performances. Why not make it a multi-DVD package and include the full sets? In any case, there is still a total of 176 minutes of entertainment packed on to this DVD and plenty of laughs. A quote from the DVD jacket… "Watch as they (the comedians) rant about proper concert etiquette, help you discover the true meaning of time-traveling, and impersonate some of today's biggest stars."
Keep in mind that I'm judging these acts based on my own sense of humor. There are some things that I find funny, but you may not. However, overall I like to think that my sense of humor is pretty close to that of many other people. With that said, up first is Dave Attell. I would say his act is good, but not great. If you like crude, toilet humor then this act is for you. Filled with tales of drunken brawls and masturbation jokes, sometimes he's funny and sometimes not. Next is Mike Birbiglia. Unfortunately, I didn't really find him funny at all. I chalk that up to my own personal taste, I guess. But really, his act just never really took off and he didn't seem very comfortable up there on stage. Given that this is one of his earlier performances, I can understand that maybe he was just getting his footing in the business. Anyway, at least in this set, he gets a thumbs down from me.
Now Frank Caliendo… he's a very funny guy. The only problem with Frank is that his act is stale. He's been doing basically the same thing for many years now. Don't get me wrong, he does a great job and I did laugh at many of his jokes, but that's because (like I said earlier) I don't watch much TV and don't have access to cable. So my opinion here probably doesn't count for much, but I know enough to realize that Frank has been doing the same impersonations for quite some time and many people just don’t find it funny any longer. As for me, I'm glad to have his classic performance on this disc because I like anyone who will make fun of President Bush. Then along comes Zack Galifianakis. Damn… can you say that last name five times fast? I had to check it three times just to make sure I got the right spelling. His name fits his comedic style… they're both a bit odd, but also intriguing. I'd say his material is a bit more intellectual than the rest (or at least that's how it seems) because of his play on words and different methods of delivery. Then again, maybe I like him just because he was able to fit a piano and an all-girl singing group into his act (me being the musician that I am). Anyway, I liked him.
Of course, Stephen Lynch is my favorite. His entire act is made up of music… songs filled with disturbing but hilarious lyrics. You definitely need a twisted sense of humor to appreciate his work, but it is oh so very funny. In this set, he sings songs from his album "The Craig Machine." First is "Craig Christ," a song about the bad sibling of Jesus (named Craig) and the story of his life living in the shadow of his saint of a brother. Funny as hell (no pun intended). There are also "Beelz," "Vanilla Ice Cream," and "Grand Father," along with a finale consisting of a song about Dungeons & Dragons (called "D&D"), which he performs with his friends Mark Teich and Rod Cone. Another favorite of mine, is Patton Oswalt. You know him from many of his TV and movie performances, but he has a great stand-up act as well. He has more of story-telling style than any of the other comics featured here. He literally tells full-length stories that just happen to have a lot of funny bits to them, and most of them are true stories from his own life (like the time he purchased pot in Amsterdam or the time he had to hide out in the Anne Frank Museum because he forgot to pay at the door). He also goes for some of the more general humor that pretty much anyone could talk about (like the history of Easter egg coloring), but he delivers it in a way that is witty and all his own.
Nick Swardson is also a fun one to watch because he is like a big kid with his goofy, off-beat style of humor. He takes absurd situations and makes them funny, like when he talks about fireworks on an airplane or having a pet cheetah. You know the stories are totally fake, but he still makes you laugh. Last, but not least, is Daniel Tosh. Overall he has a good style and mainly presents a series of non-stop jokes for most of his act. Some were funny, some weren't. And he kind of fizzles out at the end, but I enjoyed most of his material.
The DVD & the Extras
The video for this DVD is presented in full screen format. It looks good, the visuals are clear, and it's presented in that familiar cable comedy format. There's a single-screen menu where you can choose to play the individual acts or play them all. In addition, there are some DVD previews as well as three Comedy Central Quickies: "The Daily Show," "The Colbert Report," and "Reno: 911!" There are no other extras on the disc, but you're not really buying it for the extras anyway.
Get Ready to Laugh
In my opinion, there are a couple of dull sets here but overall this title is a success. It delivers a lot of good comedic material in the traditional stand-up format and provides something for pretty much everyone. The disc would be even better if it included the full sets from each comedian, but as it stands it still provides 176 minutes of entertainment. It's great when you need a night of laughter or even entertainment for after a dinner party. The Best of Comedy Central Presents II will definitely make you laugh, unless of course, you have no sense of humor whatsoever.
For more information:
* The Best of Comedy Central I (Uncensored DVD)
* The Best of Comedy Central II (Uncensored DVD)