Those who may have doubted Robert Wuhl's comedy talents after his recent turn on the late and not particularly lamented series "Arli$$" may be pleasantly surprised to find him not only very funny on this compilation of two HBO specials, but also extremely well-versed in the minutiae of American and world history. Lecturing before two groups of college students, Wuhl explores everything from the supposed origin of the raised middle finger to the longstanding tradition of inept American Presidents, all with an engaging twinkle in his eye and more than occasional four letter word augmenting his delivery.
Aided by an at-times hilarious Powerpoint presentation, and several running gags that recur throughout both episodes, Wuhl skewers targets right and left, both literally (i.e., politically) and figuratively. Showing that the vagaries of pop culture didn't start with the Britney and Lindsay era (at least in America) and drawing a surprisingly apt (even genetic) correspondence between Chief Execu-twits Franklin Pierce and George W. Bush, Wuhl moves seamlessly from subject to subject and seems to be enthralling his mostly teen and early 20-something audience.
Interpolated between Wuhl's historical stand-up routines are some nice counterpoint talking head moments from everyone from Jeff Greenfield to Sarah Vowell to Seth Rogen, but this is ultimately Wuhl's show all the way, and he deserves an A+ for effort, content and delivery.
A full frame, shot on video image is acceptable. You're here for the comedy, not the stunning vistas of classrooms.
Again, the standard stereo soundtrack is just fine.
None, unfortunately, and I know I was fascinated to find out what sparked Wuhl's expertise in this area.
This may not be an in-depth history lesson (though perhaps if it became an actual series, it could become one), but it's a great little gem consisting of various nuggets that have been discarded by the wayside of history's main thoroughfare. Wuhl makes a very engaging Professor and the "lessons" are funny and at times thought-provoking.
"G-d made stars galore" & "Hey, what kind of a crappy fortune is this?" ZMK, modern prophet