In 10 Words or Less
Another trip to the dark side with Mr. Insomniac
Loves: Stand-up comedy, "Insomniac"
Likes: Dave Attell
Dislikes: Being crude just to be crude
If you've seen one of Dave Attell's stand-Up acts, you've somewhat seen them all, as his jokes tend to center around alcohol, drinking alcohol, and what happens after you drink alcohol. It's the unique ways that he phrases his demented take on the subjects that makes him fun to see again and again. Here, in an 51-minute special shot in Washington, D.C., he once again manages to shock and entertain, mixing talk of pedophilia, bestiality and several other highly-illegal acts into a frequently self-deprecating and funny set.
In trying to break down why I enjoy Attell's comedy, it became clear that it's not his material that makes him so good, but his delivery. Jokes about porn, soup and pot-heads aren't breaking new ground comedically, and honestly, they are old hat for him, but with his drunken energy and unique vocal tics, including perfectly timed whispers and yelling, he can make the simplest line into something funny.
Of course, when you're getting a set from Attell, best known for his documentary series on the late-night antics of the oft-inebriated, the majority of it will be about drinking, and in this regard, he does not disappoint, with several bits built around the pain-go-bye-bye juice. When he touches on some different concepts, like the retarded, getting aroused by "The View" or the Middle East, he reaches some new heights. The bit about getting into an argument with a possibly-retard man at a bar was particularly hysterical, especially in his descriptions of the man. I will never look at Spider-Man the same way again.
The show wraps up in a somewhat novel way, with an extended drunk story that ends in amusing fashion. It's another example of one of the four things Attell does best: tell stories of debauchery, talk silly, say disturbingly dark things and make analogies. He may feel he doesn't make those comparisons particularly well, but I've never heard better analogies from someone without a master's in English. And as for the dark thoughts, he presents them so innocently that you can find yourself just going along with them until it's too late and your ticket's been punched for the bus to hell. There's nothing left to do but enjoy the ride.
A one-disc release, the DVD is packaged in a standard keepcase and features a static anamorphic widescreen menu with options to watch the show, select segments and check out the extras. There are no audio options and no subtitles, but closed captioning is included.
The anamorphic widescreen transfer for this special is simply gorgeous, with tons of detail, lush, deep color and excellent clarity. The image lacks any kind of defects, as there are no digital compression artifacts.
The audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 track, which does the trick for a stand-up show, but lacks the you-are-there feel. There's no distortion in the center-channel focused audio, and there's enough separation between Attell and the audience to keep him cleanly audible.
For once, an HBO stand-up DVD actually has a few real extras. The usual deleted bits are included, 10 in all, though they fly by in a hurry, and don't feature any big laughs (obviously, since why would they get cut?) The bonus footage is followed by a trio of featurettes that, in a pre-Blog point in time would have been considered home movies. The sort clips follow Attell as he performs at Bonnaroo, in Iraq and aboard a comedy cruise. It's the Attell we know and enjoy, but it's definitely no Insomniac.
The Bottom Line
If Dave Attell wasn't incredibly funny, he'd probably be a complete asshole. As it is, he's at least a partial asshole, but since he can make you laugh, you can overlook that, at least for the duration of this DVD the disc looks and sounds great, and the minor extras are worth a look. Attell's inebriated fans will want to check it out, though if you've seen his act, it's going to feel a bit familiar.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.