As the great
Steve Martin once said: "Comedy is not pretty"... OK, I have no idea what that
has to do with anything. Let me start this review again:
As the sagacious Carol Burnett once
put it: "Comedy is tragedy plus time"...wait, what the hell does that mean?
Weak, weak opening. Start again:
As the prolific funnyman Mel Brooks
once remarked: "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an
open sewer and die."
*ding ding ding ding ding*
Brooks's definition of comedy is as good as any (although his is certainly
funnier.) What makes you (the reader) break out into guffaws of childlike,
impish laughter can make me (the reviewer) burst into uncontrollable torrents of
tears. To this day I think Tootsie is one of the unfunniest exercises
in "comedy" ever conceived. Or Some Like It Hot
, for that matter. Someone please tell me, why is it that so many
people break into giddy is fits of hysterics the second they see a man in a
dress? To me that goes over about as well as a screen door on a submarine.
My point –
don't worry, we're getting there – is that stand-up comedy is the most difficult
type of media to either recommend to or from which to dissuade a potential
viewer. Your enjoyment of a program like the Funny Ladies
Collection will all depend upon whether or not you find any of the
women in this collection remotely entertaining, and even then the particular
routines presented in this set might not meet
with your satisfaction.
Funny Ladies runs nearly four
hours over four DVDs, and features thirty-two comediennes as they hawk their
wares in a series of taped routines. Ironically enough, each performance is
bridged by some of the most obnoxious and condescending commentary you're ever
likely to encounter this side of a corporate Help Desk farm. Nothing smacks of
patronizing schmaltz as much as the narration between, say, Judy Gold's and
Caroline Rhea's set, when an off-screen male voice chuckles to himself and
utters something along the lines of "Ha ha ha! Gosh you gals are swell! Say!
Here's another funny little dumpling coming our way..." I'd like to find this
schmo and lock him in a room with Camille Paglia for an hour or
So the question really remains: is
this set of material actually funny? The short answer: not really. Don't
get me wrong, I did laugh at a few segments. Ellen Degeneres always cracks
me up. So do Margaret Cho, Judy Tenuta, and Sarah Silverman. I'm a Janeane
Garofalo fan for life, and the hysterical Curb Your Enthusiasm
cast members Susie Essman and Wanda Sykes are also represented here. But
these talents are not represented at their best. The clips look as if they were
filmed for late-night network television sometime between 1988 and 1993, and
many of these ladies are captured at the beginning of their careers. And forget
the claim on the back of this set that the material is "uncensored"; you can
catch more bawdy material watching The Sound of Music run through one
of those "CleanFlix" DVD players.
The main problem is there is way too
much filler and unfunny material. There's over a
dozen names here that I couldn't recognize, and with good reason.
And what in bloody hell are freakin' Morgan Fairchild and Twiggy doing here?
Morgan, you're beautiful and luscious and you make those Old Navy commercials a
hoot, but as a stand-up comedian you're about as effective as feathers on a
So while there are too many
female comedic talents out there worthy of our attention - many of them
showcased in this very set - the Funny Ladies Collection does little to
engender laughter or hilarity. In short: this is four DVDs worth of hackwork.
The talent in this group deserve better.
Funny Ladies Collection
features performances by:
- Kim Coles
- Judy Gold
- Mary Jo
- Judy Toll
Filmed for television, Funny Ladies is
presented in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The quality of the
video is adequate. Satisfactory. Workmanlike. The image is a little shimmery,
but this is probably due to the age and quality of the original taped source
material. Colors are neither strong nor muted, but rather averagely rendered.
Image detail is spotty, but again this is shoddy source material. You're not
going to get your socks knocked off, but you'll get a decent presentation of the
The audio is presented in
both monaural Dolby Digital 2.0, and is about as impressive as the video. That
is to say, it delivers the soundtrack in a somewhat basic, no-frills manner. The
routines are delivered cleanly, without distortion or hollowness. There is some
occasional hiss, but nothing major.
Zilch. Zip. Zero. Nada.
Feh. You can get funnier routines watching anything on
Comedy Central, and that pretty much comes free with your cable. It's
actually a little disheartening, because the Funny Ladies Collection
features many extremely talented women who have proven themselves time
and time again as some of the funniest comedians of our time. You'd never know
it from this set, though. If you're in dire need or serious laughter, you can
pretty much skip this collection entirely and watch Conan O'Brien or
Futurama tonight instead.
note: I nicked the opening to this review from another I review I wrote
for DVD Talk. It's pretty apropos for this DVD set, so I figure if you're gonna
plagiarize, plagiarize from the best. Unfortunately, Tommy "The Turd"
Robelli threatened us with some serious litigation, so I had to resort to
ripping myself off, hoping I wouldn't subconsciously leave a newspaper-wrapped
fish in my favorite armoire. Remember though: even Hitchcock remade his own
movies. So did Vadim, but look how that turned out. My point? Eat more