I'll just say it flat out – Damon Wayans' HBO special, Still Standing, is one of the funniest fucking hours of comedy I've ever laid eyes on. Having originally aired in 1997 and barely seen the light of day since then, this special captures Wayans' riotously funny takes on his children, marriage, earthquakes, celebrities, Disneyland and pimps aspiring to be screenwriters, prior to his unexpected success as family funny man on ABC's "My Wife and Kids" and a Hanes spokesman.
This long sought-after special may come as a shock to those who know Wayans from his cuddlier projects; rebounding after a string of less-than-memorable roles in The Great White Hype, Celtic Pride and Bulletproof, Damon Wayans: Still Standing is blisteringly funny, finding Wayans in top form, channeling the comic fury that made the early Nineties sketch comedy show "In Living Color" so memorable.
Foul-mouthed and observant, Damon Wayans: Still Standing has aged in some respects (most notably in Wayans' biting dissection of the O.J. Simpson case as well as his vaguely homophobic jabs at HIV-positive Magic Johnson, then still playing for the Los Angeles Lakers) but still contains enough side-splitting bits to warrant a must-see for fans of ribald stand-up. Those fans who've been obsessively scouring eBay, trying to track down a VHS copy of this rarely aired special, get ready to laugh yourself stupid all over again.
Presented as originally broadcast, Damon Wayans: Still Standing bows on DVD with a serviceable 1.33:1 fullscreen transfer. The image isn't reference quality, but seeing as you might be laughing hard enough to cry, does it matter if this isn't the sharpest, clearest representation? Eh, probably not – there's some edge enhancement and jitter, but nothing horrendous.
Much like the visuals, the sonics aren't impressive, but they get the job done – a Dolby 3.0 stereo track is here, with applause never overwhelming Wayans' punchlines. There's no distortion or drop-out and overall, it's a solid soundtrack that doesn't really disappoint. Optional English and Spanish subtitles are also included.
Not that bonus material is really necessary here (nor would you expect HBO to surprise you by including some) but trailers for The Big Black Comedy Show, Vol. 1 and Gas are the only supplements on board.
Damon Wayans: Still Standing is hysterical – but then, comedy is subjective and you could quite possibly disagree with me. Nevertheless, this is an HBO comedy special that's been more or less AWOL since its original airing in 1997, which should galvanize those scouring the Web for it to haul ass to the nearest DVD retailer and snag a copy. Highly recommended.