It not high comedy by any stretch of the imagination, but at least you could say that The Naughty Show is anything but subtle. "Bawdy! Tawdry!", the packaging promises, while simultaneously clubbing consumers over the head with a gaggle of "seductive" stand-up comediennes. They don't all appear to be getting by on looks alone---at least one would hope not---but the underlying theme here is somewhere in the oft-travelled area of "loud, sassy, and out-of-control".
While I'm not usually drawn towards over-the-top comedy, I'll give anyone a shot at least once. Carlos Mencia's recent Not For the Easily Offended springs immediately to mind---he's not everyone's cup of tea, but his swing-for-the-fences style of humor really caught me on a good day. On the other hand, it's self-proclaimed "comics" like Andrew Dice Clay that really rub me the wrong way: there might be some interesting social commentary buried in there somewhere, but the egotistical manner it's presented in just turns me right off.
Unfortunately, the bulk of The Naughty Show falls squarely in the latter category, as most of the thought-provoking observations have been buried deep beneath a mountain of fundamentalist feminism, half-hearted sex appeal (including a few male dancers) and a generally unresponsive crowd. Featuring performances by Robyn Montague (Showtime At The Apollo), Stella Stolper (host at The Laugh Factory), Shayma Tash (The Tonight Show, The Best Damn Sports Show Period), Kate Rigg (NBC Late Friday, Family Guy) and Kim Cea (The News In Revue), it's one of the more uneven lineups you're likely to see. There are a few bright spots to be found, but you'll have to wait a while to catch 'em---and if I were part of the audience, I'd have left long before that ever happened.
Things start off with a lackluster set by Kim Cea, who's decked out in a fairly revealing dress and enough makeup to see it clearly from the back row of seats. Long story short: if you like your comediennes loud, obnoxious and orange, she might be right up your alley. Kim---who serves as a quasi-hostess for the evening---is followed by Shayma Tash (at top), who seems to be slightly more interesting (and thankfully more laid-back). Unfortunately, her material is fairly generic and includes rants on the Vietnamese language, QVC and Joan Rivers; while there are a few laughs here and there, it falls a bit flat and the crowd doesn't seem to warm up to her very much.
Up next is perhaps the worst of the bunch: Stella Stopler, who's basically the female version of the previously mentioned Mr. Dice Clay. There's a strong bitterness and a genuine amount of hatred in her performance---enough so that the crowd seems extremely uncomfortable---and worse yet, it's not funny in the least. She rails against gays, men, marriage and more (often taking the easy way out when dealing with each topic), stopping the show dead in its tracks and basically alienating whatever fans seemed to be enjoying themselves up to this point. Fortunately, Robin Montague is up next and seems to be in decent form: she reminds me of the talented Wanda Sykes, and her laid-back style and keen sense of timing was a welcome surprise at this point. Next up is Kate Rigg, a half-Asian from Canada (!) who helps get the crowd going a bit. Her motor-mouth delivery isn't exactly my cup of tea, but she proves to be capable in front of the crowd. Last but not least is Lisa Ann Walter, who displays a well-rounded sense of timing, charisma and self-deprecating humor to make sure she's not taking herself too seriously. It's a decent way to end the show, but one wonders if the enjoyment from the last three acts is only due to the awfulness of the first three.
Stand-up comedy should be anchored around the actual material rather than what the performer looks like---and while some of those involved get by on personality, this overall gig wasn't provocative or funny enough to get by on either merit. Even worse, several of the acts seem to be slightly edited (often intercut with behind-the-scenes footage, seen above), which makes one wonder if this lackluster footage actually represents the best material available. Of course, it's tough to recommend a show this uneven, but the DVD at least presents the main feature in decent fashion and throws in a few extras to boot. Even so, The Naughty Show left a bad taste in my mouth overall---and most fans of comedy will probably walk away feeling the same.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality:
Presented in its original 1.33:1 fullscreen aspect ratio, The Naughty Show looks good for its low-budget roots: the footage was shot on standard digital video and displays a moderate level of detail. The natural color palette is accurate and digital problems are kept to a minimum, giving the presentation a basic but serviceable appearance. The 2.0 Stereo mix is passable, offering a standard quality soundstage that fills the front channels nicely. This is, of course, a dialogue-driven affair, so it's good to know that everything comes through clearly (whether that's good or bad is up to the viewer). It's not a huge surprise, but no Closed Captioning or subtitles have been included.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging:
The menus (seen above) aren't exactly a sight for sore eyes, but at least the simple navigation makes everything easy to get to. The 90-minute main feature has been divided into one chapter per comic, with no apparent layer change detected during playback. This single-disc release is housed in a standard black keepcase, while no inserts have been included.
When the extras section is titled "Even More Naughtiness", you know you're not exactly in for an in-depth, critical analysis of the show. Unfortunately, this section mostly contains more of the same sorority-level girl talk and obnoxious behavior, though a few interview clips aren't bad.
First up is a general Behind-the Scenes Featurette (16 minutes), home to a few decent one-liners and general goofiness during the rehearsals and sound-checks. Next up is a "Deleted Scene" in the form of a Warm-up Performance from comedian Danny Bevins (5 minutes). There's a reason this didn't make the final cut (outside of his gender, that is): it's not very funny, so only the most extreme gluttons for punishment should even bother. Next up are a series of Interviews with four of the performers (Shayma, Kate, Lisa and Stella, 31 minutes total) in more relaxed environments and sharing a little bit about themselves. They aren't all bad---but ironically enough, a few of these interviews are slightly more entertaining then the respective acts! Last and least, there's a pair of additional Interviews with two of the male dancers (Marion and Ariel, 5 minutes total), so let's get right to the point: let's just be thankful that these guys don't talk during the main feature.
I wish I could say that the few decent performances in The Naughty Show are enough to salvage this one, but the bad segments and overall mentality behind the show kill it right out of the gate. That's not to say that it won't be able to find an audience, but it's a pretty sad state of affairs when certain stand-up comics need sex appeal to sell their bland material, isn't it? It's not a total loss, of course: there are a few laughs to be found, the technical presentation isn't half bad and a few of the bonus features are mildly interesting. Even so, most fans of comedy should have much better DVDs on their wish lists. Do yourselves a huge favor and buy those instead. Skip It.
Randy Miller III is a moderately affable art instructor based in Harrisburg, PA, who also enjoys freelance graphic design and illustration. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.