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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » John Oliver: Terrifying Times
John Oliver: Terrifying Times
Comedy Central // Unrated // August 19, 2008
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted September 21, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

John Oliver is a political comedian from Great Britain. He currently appears on Comedy Central's The Daily Show as a correspondent. He also participates in podcasts for the English newspaper The Times and The Bugle with fellow Andy Zaltman. This review covers his Comedy Central special stand-up John Oliver: Terrifying Times, which aired on April 20, 2008.

In "Terrifying Times", Oliver spends fifty-eight minutes poking fun at politics, evolution, nationalities, Wikipedia, political history, economics and malls, drunk voting, Fox News, The Mighty Ducks, and many other facets of life. Oliver's presentation is simply funny, as he uses his heritage for a unique perspective of the aforementioned issues. I have never seen him perform or even on The Daily Show (I don't watch the show; not because I don't think John Stewart and company aren't funny, but I never have the time...), but I thought his stand-up session was fantastic.

Oliver begins with a great bit about the United States' dominant presence in the world and Britain's former glory. He jokes about how the Great Britain was smart and did politically stupid things when there was no such thing as 24/7 new coverage. Nowadays, the United States' actions are covered by the media all hours of the day. While it may sound like a dry subject, Oliver takes it to a new level. He follows up with a great bit about drunk voting in Australia. As he continues, Oliver has some great material about a variety of subjects on politics, economics, technology, pop culture, and more.

Part of what makes Oliver's stand-up session so much fun is how he delivers the material. It is well-written and flows out of his mouth with expertise and confidence. He also includes an all-around hilarious perspective on the subjects he addresses. On the stage, there are also visual aids related to the current topic.

Overall, I was happy with John Oliver: Terrifying Times. I am not a huge fan of stand-up material, but I really did enjoy Oliver. He also included his buddy Andy Zaltman in a couple bits, which were pretty fun. In the end, if you like to laugh and do not mind lots of political humor, then this DVD is worth picking up or at least renting (while funny, I do not imagine a lot of replay value.)

The DVD

Video:
The video is given in 1.78:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen color. The picture quality for this video transfer is pretty good. There are some evident compression artifacts, but nothing really bad. The picture is pretty clear and clean.

Audio:
The audio track supplied with this release comes in English Dolby digital 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo. The audio quality is very good. John Oliver is audible throughout the presentation. I have reviewed other stand-up presentations (see Jamie Kennedy - Unwashed / The Stand-Up Special) that had issues with variable audio levels.

Extras:

  • John's Appearances on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: is a collection of clips from John Oliver's sketches on The Daily Show. They include "N Word" (5:05), "Tortured Logic" (4:03), "Political Theater" (6:07), and "Banned-Aid" (2:44). They are worth a laugh.
  • John at the UCB Theater in New York (28:44): is almost thirty minutes of John performing stand-up for Political Animal -- a radio series. He provides an interesting dialogue about his material being half-ready for a real audience, but perfect for DVD extras.
  • John & Andy On... (8:57): is a goofy radio show with John and Andy Zaltman. They discuss democracy, Great Britain, sincerity, The Daily Show, the Queen's face, and the Comedy Central special (this DVD).
  • Comedy Central Quickies: is a collection of clips from Reno 911!, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report.
  • Other: DVD previews and an Easter egg of John apologizing if you didn't mean to buy the DVD.

Final Thoughts:
I am not a big fan of stand-up comedy, but I thought that John Oliver: Terrifying Times was fantastic. Oliver is a very funny comedian and he does a great job delivering his material. He touches upon a lot of common, hot topics, but he manages to make each bit funnier than the last. While I did enjoy this presentation and give it a Recommended rating, I do not foresee a lot of replay value. Personally, I can't imagine wanting to watch a stand-up performance multiple times. Nevertheless, it is funny and working checking out.

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