Denis Leary first gained notoriety as a fast talking, chain smoking,
angry comic in a series of 30 second shorts that MTV would play between
videos. (This was way back when MTV actually played music videos
of course.) Over the years he honed his skills as a comic (as well
as an actor) and has produced two stand-up specials, one for Showtime and
another for HBO. Now the pair of these hour long performances, as
well as a few other nice tidbits are available in one package: The Complete
Denis Leary. Both of these shows are very funny and will thrill
fans of his fast paced comedy.
No Cure for Cancer:
In 1990 Denis and his five month pregnant wife traveled to England
for some performances that he had booked there. Unfortunately, her
water broke and she gave birth prematurely to their son. At birth,
he weighed a little over two pounds, and was in the hospital for quite
a while. Effectively stranded in a foreign country with no means
of support, Denis took the time he found he had to write a one-man-play/stand-up
routine No Cure for Cancer. It started slowly but gained popularity
as time went by and he eventually took the piece to New York where it also
did very well. In 1992 Showtime taped the show for broadcast.
The show prepares viewers for what the evening is going to be like by
opening with his song Asshole. This tribute to
doing whatever the hell you want, and making fun of suburban America at
the same time is both funny and lyrical. He then launches into his
stand-up, ranting and railing about many topics including drugs: "Yeah,
I'd like to do some cocaine. I'd like to do a drug that makes my penis
small, makes my nose bleed, makes my heart explode, and sucks all my money
out of the bank."
Smoking: "It doesn't matter how big the warnings on the cigarettes are;
you could have a black pack, with a skull and crossbones on the front,
called TUMORS, and smokers would be around the block going, 'I can't wait
to get my hands on these fucking things! I bet ya get a tumor as soon as
you light up!'"
Vegetarianism: "Not eating meat is a decision. Eating meat is an instinct!"
and music: "We live in a country where John Lennon takes six bullets
in the chest, Yoko Ono was standing right next to him, not ONE FUCKING
BULLET! Explain that to me!"
He calms down a little in the second half and tells some great stories
about how tough and rugged his father was as well as what happened when
he as his brother played William Tell when they were kids. This was
my favorite section of the show.
He finishes the show off with some more rants and another song, which
doesn't work as well as Asshole but is still fairly amusing.
This show has aged a little, and it's not as edgy as it was 10 years
ago. Some of his bits look a little stupid today, such as when he
is prancing around the stage in circles making fun of the pronunciation
of the word "croissant." Overall the show holds up very well, and
Leary's rapid fire rants and 'take no prisoners' attitude give these stand-up
routines quite a kick.
Lock 'N Load:
Leary's other TV special, broadcast on HBO, wasn't filmed until five
years later in 1997. In this one he turns his eye to more mainstream
cultural trends, and it works well. He covers such topics as Michael
Flatley: "Lord of the Dance? Who has the balls to call himself the Lord
of anything? Last guy called himself Lord on this planet was crucified,
Michael, okay? And we know where the hammer and the nails are."
Child rearing: " I try to bring them up the right way, not spanking
them. I find that I don't have to spank them. I find that waving the gun
around pretty much gets the same job done!"
And flavored coffee: "Is it impossible to get a cup of coffee-flavored
coffee? You can get every other flavor except coffee-flavored coffee! They
got mochachino, cappuchino, frappachino, Al Pacino, what the fuck?"
While this more recent special is more sedate than No Cure for Cancer,
it still has a good amount of invective to it and I preferred it to his
first show. The rant he gives at the end about the Catholic Church,
and the new religion he wants to start is worth the price of admission.
The bit about his daughter being outside drawing is also priceless.
A very funny show.
These two specials come on a single sided DVD. I was disappointed
to find that there are no chapter stops in the shows themselves.
Both shows come with a stereo soundtrack that does the job. Since
these are spoken monologues, there isn't much need for a lot of dynamic
range. Leary's dialog comes through clearly, though there are a couple
of spots where it sounds a little muddled. Not a great sounding disc,
but appropriate for the material.
The full frame video hasn't aged too well. In No Cure for Cancer,
the image was pretty soft and looked a little blurry. The colors
were also off slightly. Denis' face looked a little pale and yellow,
which could have been partially due to the lighting.
Lock 'N Load looked a little better, with the image being sharper
and the colors looking more accurate. There were some spots and dirt
though, and surprisingly a couple of video dropouts. Given that this
is a stand-up routine, it isn't a big deal, but I was hoping that these
shows would look better.
This DVD comes with some great supplementary material. First off
is The Making of No Cure for Cancer. This has interviews with
Leary and his co-writers, as well as some home movies and tapes of the
early performances of this show. They talk about some of the problems
they encountered and how the adverse English press actually helped the
show. A good featurette.
There are also two music videos that Denis did: Asshole and
Love Barge. While the first one is great and really compliments
the two concerts on the disc, Love Barge was actually pretty bad.
Only completists need view it.
Denis Leary is one funny comedian, and this DVD has some of his best
bits. Leary's fast paced rants and chain smoking persona make for some
hard hitting comedy. A very nice package with both of his cable
specials and two music videos as well as a making of documentary, this
DVD is a must by for his fans. Highly Recommended. Now
lets hope that Leary's aborted TV series, The Job, gets released on DVD