"Reality TV" always seems to find a fresh "bottom of the barrel" whenever a new season rolls around, and if Dane Cook's Tourgasm isn't one of the very worst -- it surely is one of the most disappointing. It's as if HBO found themselves with the rights to the whole of Dane Cook, and instead of simply delivering a rock-solid comedy concert, they decided to stretch a generally worthless concept into a 9-episode series. They really, really shouldn't have.
Full disclosure: I think Dane Cook is a pretty damn hilarious comedian. Based only on his comedy CDs and a handful of TV appearances, I definitely consider myself a fan of the guy's work. So when I got a hold of the 3-disc Tourgasm set, I figured I was in for a pretty good time. Yikes.
Here's what Tourgasm is: Dane Cook brings three old pals (all of whom fancy themselves professional comedians) on a tour of college campuses. The students will (of course) show up to see Dane Cook perform and, good pal that he is, the comedian decided to throw a trio of bones to a few old friends. Hell, any worthwhile comedian needs a few opening acts, and who better to make Cook's material shine than three semi-comedians who, well, aren't really all that talented?
In true Reality Show form, Tourgasm treats us to a bunch of bickering, bantering and roadside antics from Cook, the infantile Jay Davis, the mood-swingin' Gary Gulman, and the aggressively unpleasant Robert Kelly. The reason you've never heard of these comedians is simple: They're not very good. But they befriended Dane Cook on his way up the ladder, so the guy decided to hook 'em up for his flimsy new HBO series.
Those expecting any substantial piece of stand-up comedy material will walk away from Tourgasm sorely annoyed. The stage material makes up the final five minutes of each episode, which means the previous 22 are filled with The Real World-style arguments, oh-so-jocular ribbing, and frequent side-trips for activities like paintball, wall-climbing, and poker. The three also-rans spend most of their time whining and complaining about things -- while Cook spends his days doling out professional advice and acting kind of like a spoiled little baby.
A few months back I saw a surprisingly amusing 'comedy concert tour movie' called 95 Miles to Go, in which Ray Romano and his best pal/writing partner travel across the country doling out the chuckles. That's a movie that worked because A) the participants were likeable, B) the stops along the way were actually interesting, and C) the comedy material was both funny AND doled out in generous portions. Tourgasm is exactly the opposite; the participants (with the exception of the main man) are annoying and unpleasant, the "wacky adventure" stuff is deadly dull, and the actual on-stage comedy material is all but non-existent. Tourgasm is a nine-episode trailer for a Dane Cook comedy concert, and I suspect that only the guy's most sheep-like fans will be able to sit through the whole interminable series.
Audio/Video: The series is presented in a widescreen anamorphic format, but it's full-on handheld "doco" footage all the way. Picture quality is fine enough. Audio is delivered in Dolby Digital 2.0.
Dane and his three charity cases pop up on audio commentaries for all nine episodes, and it's pretty much more of the same: Teasing, chuckling, and ego.
Included on a third disc are five featurettes:
Conversations About Comedy (25:40) feels like an extra episode that never made it to the airwaves, and with good reason. It's the foursome discussing their art. And it gets pretty old after about nine minutes.
The Bobby Kelly 'Fuck' Montage is a 51-second compilation of, yes, f-bombs. Pointless filler.
Hecklers (13:42) has the guys discussing their worst on-stage interrupters. As usual, Cook has the best material, especially a great story dealing with Matthew Modine.
Jay Davis: Mr. Sensitive (1:20) is a highlight reel of why this guy needs to quit comedy.
Multiple Tourgasm Shorts is, of course, a collection of 20 promotional shorts for the series. A lot of this material is covered in the full series, which makes the inclusion sort of redundant.
Save your hate mail, Cook fans. I still think the guy's a great young comedian and will probably go on to a really solid movie career -- and I look forward to enjoying his successes. Tourgasm will most likely be remembered as a big speed-bump on the guy's road to mega-stardom.
Not everything needs to be a reality series.